Recruitment for new Regional Representatives on the Clinical Standards and Services Committee (CSSC) is underway, and I would encourage colleagues to consider applying. The Committee plays a key role in quality improvement (ably lead by Bernard Brett and his team), BSG guidelines, (Rupert Ransford) and clinical standards across the four nations (Andrew Douds as Committee Chair leads this and other work streams). There are 14 Regional Reps representing the 11 English regions, and Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and each have a deputy representative to support them, a total of 28 reps. In 2020, the committee was restructured and the regional representatives were given a dedicated meeting with the Chair. This has considerably strengthened the Committee as was evident by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic the subsequent recovery pressures which we now endure.
CSSC meetings continue, but on Teams. Although networking over coffee was missed, the meetings remain dynamic and interactive with regions sharing positives experiences and pitfalls. This intelligence feeds back to the Society and helps inform decision making. Remote access improved attendance whilst being cost effective and better for the environment; as a Southwest representative, I appreciated the meeting took 2 hours rather than the traditional long day of travel from Cornwall to London.
The timely and expert COVID-19 advice from the Society was welcomed across the country. However, the challenges for delivery varied markedly between hospitals and region.
In the Southwest, endoscopy capacity was increased by a variety of measures in different Trusts. In-reach endoscopy generally ran well, as did NHS endoscopy teams utilising private sector facility. Endoscopy staffing was bolstered including re-deployment of surgical colleagues, to back fill gastroenterologists covering General Medicine and training non-medical endoscopists. Outsourcing endoscopy was variably successful across the region. Implementation of Q-FIT in the colorectal cancer pathway was near universal.
In Devon, bi-weekly meetings across the County co-ordinated effective endoscopy service planning between Trusts. Torbay is developing a long term strategy with Commissioners to deal with the challenges we face.
The majority of clinical consultations became remote, delivered via video link, and whilst effective, the impact on the IT-poor population was clear. However, remote working increased the opportunity to appoint staff, and Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust has commissioned hepatology clinics from out of County. Recruitment remains difficult in places but innovative approaches, such as including funded research in one DGH, has brought success.
In all areas, training was impacted upon but units continued to look at flexible ways to maximise exposure, including a specific Endoscopy Training Improvement Group led by Louisa Vine in Derriford.
During this time, consultant posts continued to be advertised and Regional Specialist Advisors (an additional role for the regional CSSC representative) worked flexibly to provide advice on College Approval posts without Region.
The value of the CSSC is clear, and I have been impressed by the resilience and innovation of colleagues and their teams. Continued success of the committee depends on strong links between GI units and the BSG. The Regional Rep plays an important role and as I come to the end of my tenure, I would thoroughly recommend the post to colleagues.
Dr Nick Mitchell
Please note that elections for Regional Representatives are not open yet, members will be informed once they open.