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.
With my best wishes.