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President’s bulletin: Together again at BSG LIVE – the President’s conference highlights

Updated on: 14 Jun 2022   First published on 09 Jun 2022

Author:  Dr Alastair McKinlay 

BSG LIVE is almost upon us. It will be the first time that the Society will have met together for three years and I think it will be a highly symbolic occasion as well as being educational and entertaining. 

For two and a half years we have been existing in a state where all normal expectations and activities have been suspended, at least for those of us not in Government. In June, short of another national disaster, we will meet professionally to learn and update and socially to renew friendships and reinforce the “glue” that holds us together as a specialty. 

The programme, under the careful supervision of Professor Adrian Stanley and Professor Helen Steed, looks really exciting. Here are some personal choices. Other options exist, and very importantly, tucked away in the many free papers and posters that I do not have space to mention, there will be something that will change our practice radically in the future. There always is. 

The Opening Plenary is exceptional and contains headline stories that should make us think and innovate. 

Sir Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians of London, “BOD” needs no introduction. The “NHS in 2032” is a challenging brief. It should make us think. Like all glimpses into the future, it may not all come true. Sometimes looking into the future makes us examine the present and decide what we want to change. 

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard will take on the primary-secondary care interface.  The importance of understanding that relationship and how it should develop needs no explanation. 

 Professor Ailsa Hart will give the Sir Arthur Hurst Lecture on the microbiome. Our understanding of the microbiome is “the new frontier”. It has been like the discovery of a new continent, full of vast potential, with many unexplored areas and so much still to learn. Ailsa is the perfect guide. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the CSSC will discuss three important guidelines. Our evidence-based recommendations on the use of qFIT, eosinophilic esophagitis, and functional dyspepsia, with Dr Kevin Monahan, Dr Michael Davies, Dr Hasan Haboubi, and Dr Peter Paine. Proof, if it were required, that COVID did not stop our fundamental work streams. 

There is however a difficult choice. A Sustainability Symposium and Professor Robert Goldin giving the Basil Morson Lecture on fatty liver and whether liver biopsy is required are also on Tuesday afternoon. 

But difficult choices are a sign of a good conference. 

On Wednesday we have Meet the Expert sessions, Live Endoscopy, the EndoVillage, the highly awaited Mentoring Symposium, and the relaunch of our Wellbeing services. 

There is more from the CSSC on Quality Improvement, further discussion on qFIT, and an Endoscopy Foundation Lecture by Professor Evelien Dekker. In the afternoon, there is the best from GUT, Frontline Gastroenterology, and BMJ Open Gastroenterology. 

Thursday sees more Meet the Experts and the Sheila Sherlock Lecture by Professor James Neuberger, who needs no introduction. The Hopkins Endoscopy Lecture by Dr Massimilano Di Pietro is another highlight. 

Sometimes by Thursday afternoon delegates are exhausted, but please stay on for the Plenary in the afternoon. The issues up for discussion are huge. Europe and the challenges we face together as a specialty is important. Professor Axel Dignass from Frankfurt will discuss how we move forward together. For me, this is crucial, irrespective of Brexit. The medical challenges our patients face do not know any boundaries. 

Dr Sarah Wells will tackle the sensitive subject of a “good death”. Death is something that we will all face at some stage. If we cannot ensure that our patients receive a “good” death, how can we be sure that we will, when the time comes? 

Finally, Dr Upkar Gill will give the Frances Avery Jones Lecture, one of our most prestigious awards. There are also awards of medals and prizes as recognition of service to the BSG. So please stay on to the end. 

The Closing Plenary will mark the handover to our next President, Professor Andy Veitch. I hope it will mark the lifting of the COVID shadow that has hung over my own Presidency. Whilst it has been a privilege to lead the BSG through one of its darkest hours, I hope that BSG LIVE will mark the end of the time when COVID determined what we could or could not do, and a new beginning full of rich opportunities for the Society. 

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