I would like to first of all thank the society for bestowing upon me this great honour to become the 6th President of the BHS since it was founded in 2003.
It is important to recognise the contribution made by my predecessor Mr Liam Horgan under whose Presidency we have seen an increase in board members, membership and the certain inevitability of a much-needed hernia registry for the UK.
Mr Andrew de Beaux leaves the board after a long and very successful tenure, where he has undoubtedly set the scene for hernia surgery in the UK with his contributions. I am confident that he will continue his good work and we wish him well as General Secretary of the EHS.
I would also like to welcome our new board members, Mr Harsha Jayamanne (web Sectretary), Mr Toby Hammonds (Research and Science Secretary), Mr Praminthra Chitsabesan and Mr Dimitris Damaskos. All are excellent appointments, have a keen interest in hernia surgery and were chosen through a competitive application process.
The board maintains its makeup of experience alongside youth, but even more so is inclusive by ensuring that we have personnel from diverse backgrounds as well as from across the UK, in addition to a representative from our close neighbour Ireland.
As the board increases, then so will our remit in various activities the board is involved in, especially in education with the facilitation of an intended rise in support grants for young investigators in the UK. To this end we are soon to advertise for BHS members to apply for positions on three subcommittees which will be for education, AWR and the UK hernia registry, chaired by nominated board members.
This year’s conference was our first solely virtual based meeting and was a reflection of the unprecedented time we find ourselves in a global pandemic. The meeting was in all senses of the word a great success. There were over 600 registered delegates with some surgeons from as far afield as the Middle East dialling in. The programme itself was full of debates, videos, innovative techniques, latest evidence and an abdominal wall MDT with key opinion leaders in the field forging great discussions. I would personally like to thank the local organisers Mr David Sanders and Mr Brian Stephenson for their efforts, accompanied by Mr Liam Horgan and the help of Vicki Grant from the ASGBI.
The virtual platform was deemed very necessary this year because of the situation with Covid-19. As clinicians we have all been involved in this pandemic and it goes without saying that along with other surgical societies and the Royal Colleges, the BHS will support all clinicians throughout this difficult time as well as provide any advice needed for their patients, especially with respect to hernia care. It is envisaged that hernia surgery waiting times have increased over the past 6 months and we will look to see how we can aid in the governance and decision-making process of hernia surgery should the department of health or our members require such assistance.
The BHS will always put patient care first in all its activities. Our new board will endeavour to maintain impartiality in all its decisions with an emphasis on research and science as well as the use of guidelines and best practice to help guide our membership, as well as the wider surgical community in addition to the public. This moves me on to advise that we will also be advertising very shortly for a patient to come onto our board as a patient representative. We hope a patient member appointed to the board will have a positive impact especially in an age of increasing accountability for doctors.
Conferences and events for the forthcoming year are unfortunately too difficult to predict, but I envisage that we are heading towards more virtual meetings. The BHS is of course heavily involved in EHS Manchester 2022 where I will be the Congress chair. We are hoping that this does go ahead with both a virtual and physical attendance most likely being the way forward for this and future meetings. AWR will sadly not go ahead early next year but will be merged with EHS 2022 in a special session.
2021 will be a year full of initially some uncertainties in terms of the pandemic and its continuing immediate and latent effects. So as the year progresses, time will tell on Covid-19 impacts, but the BHS will continue to make strides in research and education in hernia care. We hope to have our UK hernia registry in motion with a trial set to start initially with board members only, mainly to iron out any IT problems, with the wider surgical audience following suit. The registry will not be compulsory on its commencement, but we hope that surgeons will realise its fundamental importance in data collection which will help improve and safeguard both our surgeons and patients. Therefore, its use will hopefully become widespread throughout the UK and Ireland.
With this I thank you all for your time and look forward to my new role as the President along with an excellent board alongside me. So onwards we go together.
As we head into the 2020s, the British Hernia Society is looking forward to its next meeting which will be held in Newport, South Wales in November 2020. This meeting has been organised by Brian Stephenson our treasurer, and David Sanders our research secretary, aided and abetted by Vicky Grant The conference will address groin pain following hernia repair, a session on primary ventral hernias, a BHS quiz, training prizes and presentations, a session on incisional hernias and outcomes from hernia repair and we will also hear from our research grant recipients as to their progress. We look forward to seeing you all at the meeting and encourage you to spread the word amongst your trainees and colleagues. We have kept the conference fee as low as we can to encourage you all to attend. We rely heavily on our generous industry partners so as to keep our costs low.
The board has been enlarged with the addition of Stella Smith from Manchester, and Oroog Ali who is the trainee representative and the treasurer of ASiT. Part of the work Stella has undertaken is to draw up a new constitution and new by laws for our board positions. Oroog is an important asset for the BHS with her strong connection to ASiT and to trainees. She has promoted the BHS through ASiT and run a survey on twitter focusing on trainees needs in relation to hernia training. They are both excellent additions to the board. There will be Board Member Elections again later this year and we encourage you to consider applying.
Brian Stephenson continues as our stalwart Treasurer and the finances of the society are healthy. We were lucky enough to increase our funds following our meetings in Newcastle and Edinburgh, and we hope to do so again following our meeting in Newport in November.
Because of our healthy financial situation, we were able to advertise further research grants in 2018 and 2019 and we aim to do so again within the next month. Further information will be available via our website in the near future.
The BHS website has been enlarged and a lot more information is now available on the site. We did have issues with the re-registration process which have now been resolved out so it should be easier for you to re-register. Please remember that membership of the British Hernia Society is FREE, so I would absolutely encourage you to get your colleagues and your trainees to join this society.
We have increased the information available on the website particularly with respect to guidelines and patient information on hernia repair. We wish to publicise hernia courses which are available throughout the UK so if you run a hernia course and would like to advertise on the website please get in touch with our education secretary Mr Aman Bhargava.
The BHS Board agreed to co-opt Professor Dermot Hehir, RCSI to encourage more collaboration between Irish and British hernia surgeons. We look forward to working together with Professor Hehir on common themes over the next few years.
The mesh debate continues, and we await the Baroness Julia Cumberlege report on gynaecological mesh due out in March 2020. The Scottish Health Technologies Group report for the Scottish government came out in favour of the use of mesh in inguinal hernia repair in males, in January 2020. It is important for hernia surgeons to be aware of this report and it is on our website for easy reference. These reports may well influence our use of mesh and the discussions we have with our patients.
The establishment of a hernia registry remains an important aim of our society. We have contacted the Danish Hernia Registry Team and had our first meeting with them at the BHS Meeting in Hamburg last year. Al Windsor, Stella Smith, Duncan Light and I are working together as a “BHS Hernia Registry” group to further the introduction of a national hernia registry. We have also had discussions with industry bodies to work out how we can fund a registry in the UK and Ireland. We hope to have more information about this before our meeting in November.
Conferences this year include the recent AWR Europe Meeting in February run by Al Windsor in London, the EHS Conference is in Barcelona in May, and our BHS conference is in Newport, Wales in November 2020. Our secretary Ali Sheen continues to organise our next collaborative meeting with the European Hernia Society Conference in Manchester in May 2022.
As a relatively young society we are keen to recruit as many newcomers as possible, please do your best to encourage others to join the BHS. I am halfway through my two-year term as president and feel as if I have just started because there is so much to do! We continue to work for the benefit of our members and our patients, and I am grateful to those who have contributed to the BHS over the past year to improve outcomes for our patients.
The British Hernia Society goes from strength to strength. Our biennial general meeting took place in the Assembly Rooms, in Edinburgh this year, organised by immediate past president Mr Andrew de Beaux and Mr Duncan Light. Attendance at the meeting was excellent with 300 people in attendance, and feedback was also excellent particularly on some very topical sessions. We were well supported by our industry partners without whom it would be impossible to run such a successful meeting.
As a result of increased membership, the British Hernia Society board has decided to increase the number of board members from eight to ten. As all the existing board members are male, we are very keen to have more balance and wish to encourage female members to join the board. Mr Duncan Light is responsible for the website, membership and communications and has now been appointed to a consultant post. As a result, we plan to advertise for a trainee surgeon on the board. These posts will be advertised in the new year, and elections will be co-ordinated by the society secretary, Prof Aali Sheen.
We are in a healthy financial position following our recent meeting, and the stewardship of our treasurer Mr Brian Stephenson. The board has decided to invite applications for further research grants to encourage research into hernia. Details of the grant application process will be published early next year by the science secretary, Mr. David Sanders.
The aim of the British Hernia Society is to promote safe, effective and high-quality hernia surgery throughout the UK. In the coming year we will attempt to collate and publish, on our website, details of all courses pertaining to hernia repair in the UK. Please inform our education secretary Mr. Aman Bhargava of the details of any hernia course you are running.
I have recently had preliminary discussions with Irish hernia surgeons through the RCSI with a view to explore ways to collaborate and work more closely together. Talks are ongoing. The board is supportive of closer ties.
On behalf of its members, the board will seek to drive forward the establishment of a hernia registry for the UK, and possibly Ireland. We are in the process of constructing a stakeholder group and to foster links with any interested parties. This group will establish how best to set up a registry and whether we should replicate an existing hernia registry such as the Danish hernia registry. We have had preliminary discussions with the Royal College of Surgeons of England in this regard. Our registry secretary, Mr Al Windsor and I, with the help of David Sanders and other board members will betaking this forward.
The board has, for some time, identified the lack of suitable PROMS for hernia as an issue, and we are actively seeking to establish a relevant set of PROMS for different types of hernia repair. We are looking at how other countries use mobile technology that allows instant feedback using an app which may provide better feedback.
I encourage you to come to the next AWR Europe meeting run by board member Al Windsor, at the end of January 2019. The EHS meeting this year is in Hamburg from the 11th to the 14th September. The next BHS meeting will be in 2020, details to be confirmed. We are planning already for the EHS meeting to be held in Manchester in 2022 which is being organised by board member Prof Aali Sheen.
The British Hernia Society exists for the benefit of its members, which means you, and our patients. Please make use of our website as a source of reference. If you wish to contribute to the running of your society,please consider standing for the elections to the board next year. If you have any other suggestions as to how the society should be run or improved, please contact us directly.
I look forward to a very exciting and successful 2-year term, and I am honoured to have been elected as president to serve the society.