31 March 2020

Living Now

A Radio 4 Today programme interviewee reminded us this month that “we are better together”, as she reflected on the community spirit in Italy, with neighbours joining each other in morale-boosting song during the COVID-19 lockdown. That example and others, including the renewed popularity of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as a coronavirus anthem and #clapforNHS, have been heart-warming moments during this challenging public health crisis.

For many of us as healthcare professionals, the challenge also includes preparing to work outside our comfort zone. NHS England and NHS Improvement have published workforce redeployment guidance, which your Trust or health board is likely to be implementing. Do also keep up-to-date through our COVID-19 resource page, which we review on a daily basis. If you have any information that you think we should be including, please contact [email protected].

Living with Hope

Suffice to say that we expect society to be in a different place post-COVID-19. Perhaps, NHS staff will be better valued, although I suspect the move towards generalisation rather than sub-specialisation in medical practice will gather pace. As for BSH, our voice will be one of many to highlight workforce challenges, and we will need to be as strong and coherent as possible to be heard.

The need for greater connectedness both internally towards you and externally towards our key strategic stakeholders has been a recurring message through my last 23 monthly bulletins. BSH has new and renewed links with both the American Society of Hematology and the European Hematology Association, as well as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) on research and with Wileys as a publisher of that research. We now have strong connections with the Royal College of Physicians in addition to the Royal College of Pathologists, and this has been particularly important during COVID-19 due to their direct channels of communication with medical leaders from the four nations.

Leaving Now
This will be my final President’s message as I be will be handing over to Adele (Dell) Fielding on 19 April. I know that Dell will expertly guide BSH forward with the support of our incoming Vice-President Josh Wright. It has indeed been an honour to work alongside many of the members and BSH staff led by our deeply committed Chief Executive Officer Katy Amberley. I am grateful to an excellent Board of Trustees and would love to be able to confer “Honorary Haematologist” status to our untiring lay Trustees, Susannah Randall and Trevor Jones - it has been a true privilege to have worked with them.

Leaving with Hope
So, let me end at the beginning – my first President’s message was just after the Liverpool Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) in 2018, and the next time I see you all together will be at the 2021 ASM in Liverpool as ex-President. While I certainly hope that our UK society as a whole will be in a better place by then, I am in no doubt that BSH will have built on strong foundations to be even better in its service to you and our expanding membership. In the words of an ex-Prime Minister, also featuring on the Today programme this month, the current watershed moment in our nation’s history tells us one thing above all else: “We are all connected, whether we like it or not”.

With my best and warmest wishes to you – stay safe, stay well and stay strong together,

Cheng Hock

Professor Cheng Hock Toh, MBChB, MD, FRCP, FRCPath, SFHEA
BSH President 2018-2020