President – BSGE
Southmead Hospital, Bristol
It is an honour and a privilege to be elected as your president, but no society is run by one person alone. The president is simply the figurehead and behind him are a whole series of people. In our case, our lynch pin is Atia Khan. She is the BSGE’s front-of-house but she is also a repository of all information and knowledge. I know I can rely on her support during my presidency.
Behind Atia there are many others working for the Society, and we can package them into two subsets, the Council and the Officers:
The Council has changed and I would like to start this address by formally thanking some people. Firstly, Sameer Umraniker. Sameer has finished his term on council, where he held the laparoscopy training portfolio. During his time in office he has organised courses and made significant contributions to training. However, outside his portfolio Sameer has also made valuable contributions to the development of overseas membership. He has given us a lot of ideas that has culminated in the agreement at the AGM that we are going to introduce a new BSGE category of overseas member. Sameer’s work there will continue on a more informal basis.
I would also like to say a formal thank-you to Thomas Ind, who demitted office as honorary treasurer a year ago. His post was taken over by Andrew Kent, who was welcomed at the ASM last year. Tom maintained fantastic fiscal control for the Society, which has placed us in a very healthy financial position. He also made contributions to training but his gargantuan task was getting to grips with the new data control legislation. We needed someone with his mind-set to do it and, he has put us in a very good position with regards to data control too. Finally, he authored and analysed the first membership survey, which is a piece of work that will continue on an annual basis.
I’d like to say thank-you to Mark Whittaker, who has served for two terms as honorary secretary during which time he held the lead for membership communications. Mark also made a major contribution to training and was enormously supportive of all our meetings.
I have saved my final thank-you for our outgoing president, Dominic Byrne. Dominic has held many positions within our society, but the one that will carry the most weight, long into the future, is his leadership of the Endometriosis Centre project. His work there has placed our Endocentre portfolio in a world-leading position. This culminated a few weeks ago in the publication of the largest data set of rectovaginal endometriosis treated surgically, in BMJ Open. That in itself is a huge achievement, but as president he also did a lot of background work that most members will never see. He supported all activities – and if you drill down on our website, you’ll find standard operating procedures and job descriptions for all posts. Dominic single-handedly wrote these, which helped place the Society on a very business-like footing and allows us to respond on the national and international stage. It is an investment of Dominic’s time, from which the Society will reap rewards, for years to come.
I view Dominic as a model president. If I can come anywhere near reaching his stature and achieving his outcomes, I will be a happy person, at the end of my time in office. We have formally recognised Dominic’s contributions by making him an honorary fellow of the Society.
As we move forward, we welcome four new members of the council. Donna Ghosh was a trainee representative and has now been elected to a senior position. I’d like to welcome her, Tom Smith-Walker and Funlayo Odejinmi, as the new senior representatives. Finally, Angharad Roberts was elected as the trainee representative. I look forward to working with the four of you on council.
Moving on to our new officers.
Shaheen Khazali was a council member and has now been elected as honorary secretary. I know that with his energy, his imagination and his dedication and hard work he will enhance the Society and move us forward, as he serves in his new position. Exactly the same sentiment, exactly the same words, exactly the same stature and exactly the same commitment to our specialty, also apply to Justin Clark. I am so pleased that Justin has been elected as vice-president and that in two years-time, he will be presenting this address.
Our society is enormously successful. We are financially viable and have over £770 000 in reserves. We made a profit of £160 000 last year. The profit element will vary from time-to-time, depending on our incomings and our outgoings, but Andrew will keep a close eye on that and ensure we maintain financial stability.
We are a vibrant, enthusiastic and inclusive society, a view shared by our partners in industry today. That was how they described us. I want that verve and that vibe to continue. It is how we are, it is how we work and it is how we deal with each other. The BSGE is increasing its inclusivity with the introduction of sub-committees. This will continue and the work of the sub-committees will grow as we devolve projects to them, so that they can be developed and incubated before release to the Society.
I would like to formally recognise the work of RIGS. RIGS came up from ground level, it started as a sub-group within our society, led by the trainees. They are doing great work and I want to encourage them to continue doing so and to keep contributing to the success of our society.
The BSGE will remain clinically focused. Our gold-plated product is the Endocentre project, which will continue to grow. BSGE SICS is another major development, with the potential to expand with use by new overseas members. SICS provides valuable data but it also offers a useful service for members in their day-to-day life, with regards to accreditation and audit.
The educational content of all our output is reviewed frequently, and we will continue to do so to ensure it remains relevant and informative. Training is a key activity for the BSGE, this will carry on. We offer ASM pre-congress courses and run courses in partnership with Olympus and Ethicon with the delivery of 48 fellowships a year. These are very well received, with universally excellent reviews. We hope to continue to build on this and, if possible, expand.
The Society has a close and warm relationship with the RCOG. Over time, we have become the go-to society for all areas of benign gynaecology. That is a recognition of the breadth and depth of our membership and the talent and intelligence we have within the Society. This sets us well to influence the national agenda.
Our relationship with the ESGE has been formalised with a corporate membership agreement. This has been made real with the introduction of the GESEA exam, led by Ertan Saridogan. This culminated in the recent examinations. We want to carry on with this and support Ertan in his ESGE activities, as well as using him as a conduit to get the best out of the European Society for our members in the UK.
The BSGE is influential. Our work with the RCOG has led to the development of joint guidelines and patient information leaflets. That influence continues nationally, outside the College. NICE recognises us and asks for our advice on guideline development and support with committee membership. NHS England also works with us directly and we’re involved in specialist commissioning.
All of this pays testament to the current size and stature of the Society. What started out as a group of enthusiasts and like-minded surgeons in minimal access surgery, has grown into a society that is punching very hard indeed. Perhaps, when seen from the inside, we may be punching above our weight – but we’re going to grow into that!
The future will involve more of the same, but we will expand the perimeter in which we work. We will continue to provide high-quality training. We will maintain our partnerships with industry to support meetings such as the ASM and through the continuation of our formal fellowship programme. We currently work with Olympus and Ethicon, but we are always open to others.
Our work with the RCOG is ongoing. We are working to get our Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery ATSM recognised for credentialing by the GMC. That is a piece of work that would test anyone’s skill and patience, but it is a process that is already underway and we are getting some early positive responses. When achieved, it will be good for our society and very good for our trainees.
Our meetings will remain informative and relevant. We are going to champion minimal access surgery. Increasingly we are getting enquiries from the media, this will persist and we will also aim to increase our patient information output, as well as looking at novel ways of delivering this information, including more use of multimedia.
We will support research (not necessarily by funding it, so don’t start writing in with applications for massive grants). Instead, we can create an atmosphere where areas of research that further our aims and ambitions are encouraged. We can use our networking
influence and contacts to link research groups with people who make decisions about funding, so we can influence the direction of research to match our aspirations.
Our patient partnerships are important to the Society. Endometriosis UK is a key patient information group because of the interest area of our individual practices. We will build on this relationship and develop multimedia information packages that are accessible to our patients directly.
We will keep in touch with our members through an annual survey. It will keep the officers and council members in check and make sure members are happy with the direction the Society is travelling. It will act as a good sense check, and ensure we are responsive to your wishes, desires and ambitions.
The BSGE is our society. It is your society and I urge you to get involved in all the activities we have to offer. The BSGE has an open door. Feel free to send us your ideas, they will all be considered and any good ones will be developed further. The ingenuity of 1226 members cannot be underestimated, nor can it be replicated by four officers and a dozen council members. The combined power of your imaginations is immense, and we’d like to tap into that. So, please get in touch.
I’m acutely aware of the honour and privilege of being elected as your president and am grateful for the warmth with which I’ve been received. I shall do everything within my power to discharge the responsibility that goes with this office, to the best of my abilities.