31 October 2023

It's a particularly busy time at the BSH with the Board and staff working hard on, amongst other things, the new three-year strategy, the programme for the 2024 ASM, and the search for a new Chief Executive Officer. Despite this intense activity, there is little to share with you at present, but be assured we will keep you informed when there is.

With the BSH workforce fellows in post, we're pushing ahead with this project and are about to contact many of you with a haematology workforce census. "Oh, great", I hear you sigh. "Just what I need: another questionnaire to complete."

Before you see the invitation in your inbox and think, "Well, that'll have to wait", please consider the following:

  • Our goal is to establish how the BSH can better support and advocate for our workforce: no other professional body will do this for us, and no one else has greater motivation to get it right; poor engagement from our membership will invoke the "garbage in, garbage out" rule.
  • This census is different: the use of soft systems methodology (which you can read about in The three stages of the project) by our collaborators at London South Bank University will give us insights beyond the 'usual' outputs, facilitating accurate modelling of the complex work the haematology team deliver.

We will send this census to clinical leads in haematology departments across the UK. We're reasonably confident in the accuracy of our database but appreciate that lead roles change hands. If the survey does not reach the correct person, please email us to update our information.

We will also be performing a further survey a little way down the line, aimed at understanding the quality of your working lives.

Over the next 12 months, you will have the opportunity to contribute to the most comprehensive evaluation of the haematology workforce ever undertaken. As haematologists, we all appreciate the need for reliable data, so please contribute. Our outcomes will only be as good as the level of your engagement.

Although not a particularly political animal, I have found myself listening to the noises emanating from the primary party conferences. As the conference season draws to a close, it's worth asking, "Are we any the wiser about what may happen to the NHS over the next few years?" Answer in brief? No.

With the NHS still ranking in the top three public concerns, all the parties had something to say. Much of what was said focused on public health and preventative measures, such as the highly publicised smoking ban proposed by the Conservatives. Labour speaks a great deal of reform and movement of the healthcare focus away from hospital care to primary and community care. Whilst laudable, there would, no doubt, be a shift of funding to support this.

The key issue remains the overall state of the economy. GDP per capita is the most commonly used measure of national prosperity, and apart from a post-COVID bounce, ours has been dropping since 2018.

Healthcare is expensive, and tertiary haematological care is amongst the costliest. In August, the NHS had already overspent by a billion. None of our parties wish to talk too much about possible tax rises or bet the bank on improvements in productivity and exports, so it should be no surprise that none have delivered any real clarity on healthcare.

Finally, I'd like to draw your attention to two new special issues in the Society journals.

BJHaem has published a special issue of 16 original papers and reviews on Refractory ITP, guest edited by Professor James Bussel and Professor Paul Imbach.

eJHaem has published a special issue of seven reviews entitled Lymphoma in adolescents and young adults: Navigating a path forward together, guest edited by Professor Andrew M. Evens and Dr Kara M. Kelly.

And finally (I really mean it this time), please take the time to complete the forthcoming BSH workforce census.