19 December 2022

It feels about 10 minutes ago since I finished writing the November message, but this is a shortened month with the Christmas break approaching fast. As I review the year’s messages I do apologise if they have seemed to take a negative tone. They’ve usually focused on some adverse clinical event that reflects either workforce issues, poor staff morale or a policy decision that annoys, irritates, and has adverse implications for healthcare…..followed by an inevitable rant.

This isn’t the time of year to be depressed- though a nursing and ambulance staff strike plus a probable junior doctors strike in the New Year is enough to test the eternal optimism of all but the most deranged.  If you feel like a bit of background to our woes (to brighten up your Christmas break?) I can recommend the Health Foundation report on comparative European spending on health . Sorry, I’m at it again.  I shall therefore attempt, in the words of Aretha Franklin, to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.

This last week has seen CART cell therapy in the news again with a first from the world leading UCL/GOS team treating T ALL using base edited allogeneic CART cells, a far more challenging prospect than B ALL I believe.  A remarkable development in the evolving story of cellular therapies and a testament to the dedication and ingenuity of the UCL/GOS team. This, along with the recent stories from NHSBT about the manufacturing of red cells from stem cells reminds me of the outstanding innovation that our Universities and Health system are able to deliver.

Within my department, we have been fortunate enough to recruit new staff to our department over this year. A growing workforce of physicians associates and advanced nurse practitioners has had a dramatic effect on the way we deliver services and our new consultants have made a significant impact, injecting renewed vigour into the place. The much-discussed NHS pressures are forcing us all to look at things a little differently and BSH would like to assist with the dissemination of the good ideas you have developed. This specialty has long taken the initiative and has been at the forefront of much that is good about healthcare. If you have areas of your service of which you are proud then please let us know and consider submitting a last-minute abstract for next year’s ASM here (the deadline for submission is 6 January 2023.). We are also interested in personal anecdotes of staffing issues which may have contributed to adverse patient experience and poor staff wellbeing. Email any example to [email protected] 

On the subject of the ASM, the programme is almost finalised. The committee, under the considered and wise guidance, of Chris Dalley has put together a varied and interesting offering.  The 63rd Annual Scientific Meeting will be at the ICC in Birmingham in 2023 and will be a face-to-face meeting with a full social programme. With no overseas travel required, a wide range of BSH grants available to attend the meeting for nursing staff and students, a chance to meet colleagues and friends, and a fantastic programme. What’s not to like? So please add this to your diary and lets get as many of the UK Haematology community as possible there for the event.

In other news we have had several outstanding candidates apply for the role of social media editor to BJH and EJH and will be appointing shortly. We are working ever more closely with the Royal Colleges and I’d like to congratulate John Ashcroft on his appointment as RCPath Treasurer, he holds the purse strings for BSH as well so I shall have to be extra polite to him as we invest considerable funds in collaborative workforce projects. 

On behalf of BSH I wish you a good Festive Season and hope that your on call rota treats you kindly!