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President’s Bulletin: Two lights amidst the Gloom

Updated on: 30 Oct 2020   First published on 30 Oct 2020

Author:  Dr Alastair McKinlay 

It has been a hard couple of weeks. Across the country, more and more people are subject to restrictions as the second wave of COVID-19 washes up a little sooner than expected. Restrictions that determine who they can see, where they can go, and what they can do in their spare time. The frustration, anger, and anxiety are palpable, understandable and to be expected. Some people are even referring to the “happy lockdown” that occurred earlier in the year, although I do not personally remember feeling particularly happy about it at the time. Somehow it was easier to face restrictions in the spring, with the prospect of longer days and better weather to come. Now as we enter autumn and winter, the thought of going back into lockdown seems particularly hard.

Amidst the gloom, there are still some good news stories that we should celebrate in the BSG.

Prof. Ramesh Arasaradnam was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list particularly for his work on the IONIC trial. All of his friends and colleagues at the BSG are delighted for Ramesh, who chairs the Research Committee. Whilst it is a huge honour for Ramesh personally, it also recognises and supports the whole of our specialty. So it is a great pleasure to recognise Ramesh’s achievement, on behalf of the BSG family, in all its diversity and strength.

Sheffield University Teaching Hospitals Gastroenterology Unit has been named a WEO centre of excellence, one of only 20 centres globally. To me, Sheffield is synonymous with a team approach and the rewards that come from encouraging co-operative working, whilst developing a critical mass of academic talent.

I have known Prof. David Sanders for many years, probably longer than either of us would care to remember, both as a friend and also as a much-valued medical opinion. His philosophy has always favoured collaborative working. His work with the Sheffield service has encouraged others to succeed and shows that developing a bigger picture pays huge dividends. Mark McAlindon, Reena Sidhu and their colleagues have been immensely productive and are to be hugely congratulated. To me, as a non-academic outsider, it engenders nothing but respect and a huge feeling of pride for a great British centre of excellence.

Both stories confirm that British academic medicine is still world-class. So, as we turn to face the winter, and a second or possibly even a third wave of COVID-19, we should derive some comfort from the knowledge that Britain still has some of the best vaccine research groups in the world. Let us hope their hard work is rewarded with success.

Alastair McKinlay

BSG President

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