30 May 2023

“Nail your colours to the mast”.

One of those old English idioms, suggesting a willingness to completely commit to a task or principle. The Labour party appears to have done this in their statement entitled “Build an NHS fit for the future”. It seems to offer hope to a Health service, currently just about managing to stagger between catastrophes’. There is a bold commitment to both investment and reform, focusing heavily on re-establishment of good community care and reduction in hospital admission. Vague promises about the use of technology to assist with workforce deficiencies seem a tad aspirational to a man who has to spend 15 minutes (plus a similar number of profanities) trying to start his ancient Trust computer before every outpatient clinic. There is however no doubt that better technology could facilitate rather than hinder patient care, given sufficient investment to address the outdated infrastructure with which many Trusts still operate. It was a one of our speakers at the ASM who said “AI wont replace doctors but doctors who use it will replace those who don’t”.

Funding will come from abolishing the Non Dom tax status, currently costing the UK around £3.2 billion a year…. nearly as much as a new iphone. That said, as the overall NHS England budget alone is over £133 billion at best this represents a mere 2.4% addition. A new iphone maybe all we’ll get then.

I realise that such documents are manifesto type promises and we all know what can happen to those. Nonetheless, funding questions notwithstanding, it does seem to be a statement of intent ……if they get into power.

In the meantime I await the government’s Workforce Plan like a small child on Christmas Eve. Perhaps I need to get out more. Word is that this too sounds positive but we have to wait and see what HM Treasury’s red pen has left us with.

Thank you to the many individuals who engaged so actively with conversations about workforce at the ASM. BSH will keep you updated with our ongoing project either in the monthly bulletins or in BJH.

I might be biased, but the ASM was a great success this year with a buzz about our first fully face-to-face meeting since 2019. Including the Pitfalls day there were over 1600 delegates and there has been plenty of useful feedback and suggestions for our next meeting in Liverpool.

On behalf of BSH I’d like to formally thank Chris Dalley as the Programme Committee Chair. Going back to Naval analogies, he wasn’t so much recruited as press-ganged. However he tells me he has genuinely enjoyed the experience, which is just as well as he’s doing it again next year. That’s double the enjoyment by my reckoning. Leading the large team of haematologists, BSH staff and professional conference organisers to deliver a successful meeting is both a privilege and a pleasure. We still have a vacancy for the Vice Chair role, please contact us if you are interested. I’d also like thank Stephen Hibbs who has spent 6 years on the committee including a spell as Deputy Chair. Stephen has been a driving force behind the introduction of many excellent novel sessions and has done a huge amount to change the face of the meeting, bringing greater patient input to remind us why we do the job in the first place. He will be much missed and we wish him well as he starts his PhD.

Finally, our whole system workforce project collaborators, London South Bank University, will be asking a lot of you in terms of questionnaires, interviews etc over the next few months. We need good engagement to get meaningful results so this is a plea, not just for your continued engagement and enthusiasm, but also if you are considering sending out questionnaires to staff groups please talk to us first. We might be able to alter our own surveys to accommodate and need to reduce survey fatigue if we can.