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President’s Bulletin: Out of COVID comes strength

Updated on: 03 Nov 2021   First published on 03 Nov 2021

Author:  Dr Alastair McKinlay 

Out of COVID comes strength.


Time flies when you are enjoying yourself.

It unfortunately follows that time also flies when you are overstretched, overworked, and sometimes deprived of any space to think.  COVID has extracted a significant price for everyone on the frontline.  In addition to the constant stress, concern for loved ones mixed in some cases with grief for people we have lost, there is a constant lack of time to do anything different or stretching.

Which is why the BSG Annual Meeting Online, is so important this year.  It’s a chance to think and stretch intellectually.  Here is a personal choice of some of the highlights you may want to look out for.  The programme is fabulous and I can only mention a fraction of the riches in store.

In the opening session, Professor Peter Friend is talking about small bowel transplantation and its coming of age.

Professor Lorna Dawson talks about the science of forensic soil analysis.  This is the real CSI.  Forget television, learn about it as it is.

Professor Maggie Rae talks about health inequalities in GI and hepatology.  You are guaranteed to emerge intellectually reinvigorated and that is only the start.

Appropriately in the week of COP26, our President-Elect Dr Andy Veitch launches the BSG initiative on climate change and sustainability.  It might seem that we can do very little on our own, but the earth is more likely to be saved by millions of small steps, than simply a reliance on our world leaders.

Principles matter.  The SWiG symposium is not just about supporting women.  It’s about supporting people in all their diversity, and making sure gastroenterology is a good place to be for all our members.

The Sections have compiled some of the most diverse and compelling symposia that we have seen.

Endoscopy is looking at complex methods of feeding, IBD at screening for cancer risk, and Liver on the role of TIPSS.

I would single out Professor Matt Rutter who is delivering the Hopkins Endoscopy Prize Lecture on improving endoscopy through data, and Professor John O’Grady is giving the Sheila Sherlock Lecture on liver transplantation.

The trainees face Dragons in their Den and Dr Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed, winner of MasterChef in 2017, gastroenterologist, and role model, gives a cookery demonstration.  The President asks the questions, but doesn’t get to eat the meal, unfortunately.

There is nutritional content from the Small Bowel Section relating to PEG feeding, dietary input in functional GI disease, and the small bowel physiology of gastric emptying at the AGIP symposium.

For something completely different, Dr Bev Oates talks about GIRFT and there is a whole COVID symposium.

The BSG Nursing symposium discusses colon capsule and creating a sustainable workforce.  Completing on nutrition, Professor Paul Robinson updates on MARSIPAN, not a cookery demonstration in this case, but the highly important update to guidance on eating disorders.

There are specialist symposia on medicine for adolescents and young people, the oesophageal and gastrointestinal Sections on complex reflux and the problems of gastroparesis, and the Colorectal Section on colon capsule.

The breadth of information on offer is outstanding, which makes the plenary session on Friday the 12th November even more worth waiting for.

Professor Emad El-Omar delivers the Sir Arthur Hurst lecture.  Dr Fotios Sampaziotis delivers the Sir Francis Avery- Jones Prize Lecture on organoids, and an old friend of the Society, and national treasure, Dame Parveen Kumar, after a lifetime devoted to teaching and clinical care, talks about “Caring for the profession itself.”

Finally, there are the President’s Medals and the Society’s awards.

This is a feast seasoned with innovation and inspiration. It is guaranteed to revive even the most COVID weary and disheartened practitioners.

Stay safe, stay sharp, stay kind. 

Next year we meet face-to-face in Birmingham.

Finally, looking at the BSG, our Society, I would suggest this as our motto for 2022.

“Out of COVID came strength.”


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