Democracy: Atrophy or Regeneration?
The New York Yankees baseball coach Yogi Berra was famous for his one-liners, malapropisms and paradoxical statements. It has always been a matter of conjecture whether these were accidental or contrived, but they convey a certain perverse wisdom. “It ain’t over till it’s over,” is Berra. So is, “It’s like déjà vu all over again!”
It is election time in the BSG and if the Society is to avoid “déjà vu all over again,” it is important that our members exercise their democratic right and vote. All membership societies have to stay in touch with their grassroots members and, if they don’t, then ultimately, they atrophy and fail. Amongst the important posts that we need to fill are 3 elected councillors to replace Prof Mark Hull, Prof Mark Pritchard, and Dr Frank Muller who have reached the end of their term of office, having served the Society conscientiously and wisely, over the past few years. The role of the elected councillors is to reflect the views of the members. They hold the executive to account and may also have the opportunity to serve as trustees. The elected councillors play an invaluable advisory role, particularly on strategic issues and when “blue sky thinking” is required. Please think seriously about applying. The job descriptions and nomination processes are available on the website.
The BSG has an equality and inclusion policy, recently reviewed by the elected councillors, which makes clear that we welcome applications from all our members, irrespective of gender, orientation, ethnic background or training, for all governance and leadership roles within the Society. We want to be a vibrant and dynamic institution, that promotes excellence in our care for patients, so we need vibrant, dynamic, caring people to come forward. If that describes you, then please consider standing.
There is a whole range of opportunities to serve the BSG and its GI and Liver communities. We are taking applications for the CSSC QI Lead/Secretary or if you haven’t held a post before, please consider standing for one of the sections, or as a regional representative.
By definition, not everyone can be elected, so inevitably some candidates will be disappointed, but persistence is important, and to paraphrase a famous recruiting poster from the First World War, your “Society definitely needs you”. The COVID crisis has catalysed a lot of change within the NHS, society as a whole, and the BSG. We have shown that we can conduct a lot of our business remotely, without forcing committee members to travel. A much better prospect for members with busy working lives, especially those who are also carers or who have families to look after. The move to remote working will continue as part of the new norm. We have embraced new ways of providing education through webinars, but we still face big challenges from COVID-19, particularly over the future of the annual meeting and how we adapt training so our trainees don’t miss out over the next few years.
As a Society, we will be much healthier with an engaged membership, which means having an active, representative governance structure that reflects our membership in all its diversity and strength. It may be true that “it’s not over until it’s over”, but I do not believe that it has to be “déjà vu all over again”. Our greatest asset has always been our members, please consider taking an active part in our business, which ultimately is your business too.