28 March 2024

NHS England has an open consultation on the Never Events Framework. The Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT) haemovigilance scheme has flagged this consultation to the BSH. The SHOT team have a particular interest in Never Event 12: “Transfusion or transplantation of ABO-incompatible blood components or organs”, though “administration of medicine by the wrong route” will also be relevant to haematology.

Factors still contributing to preventable errors are staffing issues, high workload mismatched to staff capacity, poor IT, suboptimal staff training, under-resourced systems, and ineffective learning from incidents. Notably, all are increasingly pressure points in our hospitals.

You may wish to review the consultation and take part by providing your views on the never events you have experience with via the link above.

Continuing the theme of risk and harm, I’ve been contemplating coroners’ courts, my mind focussed somewhat by a recent appearance. I suspect I’m not alone in admitting it’s never been an experience I’ve relished, but my impression is that my attendance has been requested much more frequently over recent years. There are, of course, two possible explanations: either this is a national trend, or I need to retire!

To reassure myself it was not the latter, I looked at the coroners’ statistics for England and Wales (Scotland reports separately). There has been a national increase in inquests of 10%, though this is highly variable by region, with some areas showing a minor decrease and others seeing an astounding 40% increase. Prevention of future deaths notices have remained relatively steady, and the most common outcome is death by natural causes (a 40% rise).

Although I found this largely reassuring, I do have persistent concerns. That our NHS is under enormous stress is unarguable. The system is creaking. We have normalised poor care, gradually accepting nursing and medical staffing gaps despite an inpatient population who are increasingly complex and dependent. Against this backdrop, there will be errors and never events. In many circumstances, we will appear, as clinicians, to have failed rather than the systems that support us.

My point being that despite the inevitable “there is no money” mantra, we must not be complacent about the provision of safe, high-quality care, raising concerns where necessary and pushing back hard against inadequate staffing and poor facilities.

On that bleak note, I shall move to more positive matters.

Firstly, for trainees thinking about out-of-programme experience overseas, can I draw your attention to a BSH Global Haematology SIG document highlighting the merits of working in low- and middle-income countries?

Secondly, at the recent BSH Board meeting, we discussed a summary of ongoing projects across the BSH’s various committees. Seeing the extent of the Society’s work laid out like this never ceases to impress me. It’s a testament to our volunteers’ talent, dedication and drive. I encourage you to click the link, have a quick marvel at it, and see if there are projects which “float your boat” and volunteer! Here are a few other vacancies for you to consider.

When we surveyed members and asked what held them back from volunteering, I was surprised to see “imposter syndrome” given as a common reason. So, to reassure all of you imposters out there, we don’t recognise this phenomenon. Have a go. You won’t regret it.

Our Annual Scientific Meeting is rapidly approaching. Registration numbers are up compared to this time last year, so I’m hoping we will again be looking at a record attendance.

I may be biased, but the Programme Committee has assembled a varied, interesting programme with over 40 sessions and 120 invited speakers. We have tried to improve on last year’s conference dinner, and I’d encourage you to sign up for the big event at the “crown jewel of Liverpool’s dining and entertainment scene” (well, that’s what it says on the venue website, and they should know!)

Finally, two items of Society business:

If you’re a full or full (reduced) BSH member, please take the time to vote in the trustee elections, which close at 17:00 on Monday, 1 April 2024. Eligible members should have received an email with codes for voting. If you believe you’re eligible and haven’t received an email, contact our Head of Operations, Si Mohamed Dahiri.

I’m excited to announce that Carol Bewick, our new CEO, commences her role on 2 April. I’m confident Carol will be an excellent CEO and wish her well. I’m sorry we will only be working together for a matter of weeks before I hand over the reins to Sue Pavord. Carol will be at the ASM, so please look out for her.