13 December 2023

The Christmas break means December’s message is published earlier than usual. So, with the ink only just dry on November’s message, I’m back again.

First and foremost, I’d like to encourage members to consider the upcoming vacancies for Vice President, Treasurer or Trustees. The deadline for applications is 17:00 on Monday, 29 January 2024.

These roles are a great experience and an opportunity to help your profession and influence the overall strategy of the Society. The Board should represent the whole of haematology, so we welcome applications from across the spectrum of the multidisciplinary team and centres, both large and small, academic or otherwise.

Once again, may I please remind you to take 5-10 minutes to fill out the BSH questionaire on work practices and wellbeing, you should have received an email from BSH.  We need as high a return as possible to obtain meaningful information to fight our corner.

Neither NHS England nor the Department of Health and Social Care have the depth and quality of information we are gathering. Their inaccurate information is used to judge our specialties’ need for further expansion and investment. We hope that facts, figures and anecdotes from the shop floor will be powerful tools for change.

Individual department clinical leads will have also received a request for detailed staffing information. Once again, I request (for which read, “plead, beg and grovel”) your collaboration.

Our partners at London South Bank University can use the accurate workforce information you provide in conjunction with nationally collected workload data to reveal the real-world state of play. Our data is only as good as your engagement!

Almost within the timescale of a single breath, we have had:

  1. the General Medical Council publish its 2023 workforce report highlighting that annual new registrations of doctors trained outside the UK outnumber those trained here and comment that this will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future,
  2. the NHS Confederation stating how crucial it is that we continue actively recruiting outside our borders to meet staffing gaps,
  3. the Health Secretary tell us she will make the NHS system faster, simpler and fairer, and
  4. the ironically named Mr Cleverly announce the UK will tackle abuse of the immigration system with measures likely to discourage potential incoming health and social care workers.

Sometimes, I just despair.

This week saw the publication of a report from the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre Network highlighting the challenges and opportunities in adopting treatments such as CAR-T and gene therapies.

It’s a call to action for policymakers and raises the uncomfortable truth that the UK health and life sciences sector might be left behind. With many of our members involved in delivering CAR-T or trying to gain access to gene therapies for patient benefit, the BSH is keen to support this initiative.

Despite this somewhat un-festive December message, and on behalf of BSH and its staff, I wish you all a good Christmas break and a prosperous 2024!