From Mr Tim O'Brien
President of BAUS
"... enjoy the global cast & meet face-to-face locally ..."
Welcome to BAUS 2021, a celebration of Global Urology. It promises to be a superb three days of education, research, NHS politics, quality improvement, conversation and legal debate. Take a break from COVID; from prioritisation documents; from facemasks; from waiting lists; and instead immerse yourself in the specialty you love.
The format is of course virtual. In November 2020, a virtual congress seemed like a real step into the unknown but now it feels reassuringly familiar, and we know it can be a very successful format. Many delegates in the Autumn even went to the length of expressing a preference for the virtual over face-to-face because of the ease of playback, multi-session viewing, watching from home, listening whilst making the kids’ supper, splicing a session into a gap in theatres and the cost of registration. This summer we are not offering the registration as a "member-benefit" - due to the vagaries of UK tax law - but we have been able to reduce the costs down to a nominal level whereby the registration fee becomes little more than a fee to cover administration. We hope the members appreciate this move.
Asif Muneer and Ian Pearce have curated an eclectic mix of sessions with an emphasis on global urology, so that there a host of joint sessions with our neighbouring associations and friends from around the world. Together,these sessions present an incredible opportunity for delegates to learn from leaders in urology all over the globe, without the airfares, and they are in keeping with our vision at BAUS of putting robust structure to our links across the world of urology over the next 3 to 5 years.
A particular highlight for me will be to listen to Lauren Sutherland QC give her perspective on the legal framework of surgery. She was the legal counsel in the Montgomery judgement, and those who follow her Twitter account will know that her views will be worth hearing. The one place I don’t want to see Lauren is at the microphone during the Presidential Q&A! I’m also incredibly excited by the possibilities in the research trials’ Dragons' Den which is part of the new research initiative between TUF, BAUS and the CHaRT trials unit in Aberdeen. This partnership offers a real opportunity to put clinical trials at the centre of what we do in British Urology. The research proposals being discussed look tantalising. You get the chance to vote for the ones you want to go forward to the team in Aberdeen to be developed into fully worked up research grant applications. Exercise your vote.
A highlight for any President of BAUS is to bestow the Association’s medals on the worthy recipients at the annual meeting. Once again, this year’s recipients are hugely distinguished, and all add to the incredible timeline of distinction since 1945. To Howard Kynaston, Mani Menon, Andrew Dickinson, Sri Sripisad and Bhaskar Somani, I extend my warmest congratulations.
The meeting is of course impossible without the efforts of the team in the BAUS office. A "house move" in May at the Royal College of Surgeons has not been the perfect preparation for a June congress, but Harry Heald and his two new assistants Annabelle Masham and Athene Madden have stayed calm (I think) and look like they have done a splendid job. They have also co-ordinated the commercial side of the meeting, which was a somewhat unexpected success of the virtual format in November. It goes without saying that we are grateful to our sponsors who have put money into the congress to make it a success. The pandemic has created huge uncertainty around commercial sponsorship of surgical associations, so we are very happy to have that support. No doubt we can look forward to seeing the companies’ innovative approaches to marketing their products in the 2021 virtual space.
Is there a chance to socialise at a virtual meeting? Of course. You can do that online - you may have done enough of that in the last year! - but the other option would be to host a departmental party on one evening of the congress. What could be nicer than an outdoor gathering in the garden on midsummers day, an enjoyable soiree after a day at the virtual congress? It might be the perfect way to create a relaxed conference vibe with your friends from your own department. We will be trying this in the BAUS President’s garden in Epsom – why not try it too with your own department?
One final word from me is to thank Asif Muneer, the BAUS secretary, who steps down at the end of the meeting. He has managed an incredibly challenging brief with great aplomb. Quite how he has coped with the ever-changing brief I don’t really know but he has, and his time as BAUS secretary will be unique in his having curated two virtual congresses. I think we owe him a huge debt for keeping BAUS on track and for having changed congress forever!
Have a fabulous 3 days ...