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Outgoing President's Final Briefing

As these extraordinary times move into a different phase I write, for the last time as President, to thank you for the way in which the whole of urology has pulled together and acquitted itself with distinction in the last few years, particularly recently in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.

The challenges we have faced have been immense, and yet we have produced cohesive, unified and practical guidance that has made, and will continue to make, our working lives more productive, safe and effective.  Sadly, some of our colleagues have been very sick with this awful disease and our thoughts turn to those throughout healthcare who have lost their lives due to this infection – especially Mr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury who paid the ultimate price whilst caring for his patients.

During my tenure, it has been mentioned several times by colleagues in other organisations and branches of medicine that it is our specialty which leads the way in many respects: for example, audit & data, guidance & education for members & patients, and a timely equality & diversity statement in February 2020 which underpins the whole ethos of our association.  We are able to lead in these areas because of the ideas, enthusiasm, and input from so many within the world of UK Urology, almost invariably with a “can do” attitude and a genuine desire to improve our specialty – thank you.

This cohesiveness has been been exemplified by many events. To name just two of the many, and although it now seems a very long time ago, the "mesh crisis" which landed in July 2018 was very skillfully addressed by Chris Harding and many from the FNUU section, and is still ongoing.  The BAUS response to over-centralisation of penile implant surgery was eventually heeded by NHSE after much work by Rowland Rees and the AGUS section to ensure a more sensible outcome.

There have been many recent changes to the organisation – the formation of the Audit Steering Group, led by Dickie Dickinson, ably assisted by Louisa Hermans and Sarah Fowler. John McGrath has very skillfully led the Research Committee, Dominic Hodgson the ever-strengthening Education Committee and our trainees, led by Luke Forster and now Sot Tolofari, settled as an integral part of BAUS by becoming the BAUS Section of Trainees (BSoT) from SURG – all welcome moves in the right direction. Thank you to all and their excellent committees.

The need for some guidance as to how we best manage our on-call cover was very ably handled, in conjunction with GIRFT and consultation with all the membership via all our Regional Reps. I am especially grateful to Matt Hayes, Simon Williams and Sri Sriprasad for help with this.

Our annual meetings have gone from strength to strength, and these have been superbly organised by the whole programme committee, led by the Honorary Secretaries and Secretaries-Elect – Paul Jones, Asif Muneer and Ian Pearce – all ably supported by Harry Heald, Louise Finch and Hannah Doyle. Putting together such successful meetings is no easy task and takes a lot of hard work & co-ordination.

A few years ago, the British urological community realised that 2020 was going to be a landmark year for us all.  BAUS would become 75 years of age and it would also be 25 years since The Urology Foundation (TUF) was formed by a joint initiative between BAUS and the British Journal of Urology (BJU, now BJUI). The British Association of Urological Nurses (BAUN) would also be 25 years old and the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) Section of Urology would mark an impressive 100 years since it’s formation in 1920.  A group made up of representatives from all these organisations was, therefore, formed. Thia group met regularly to draw our specialty together, reflect upon all that had been achieved over the last few decades, highlight the breadth of current practice and look into the future as to how things may evolve. This became collectively known by the logo Urology 2020 – with the strapline of "100 years of excellence”.  Many plans were laid for a rolling celebration and a series of events to mark these important milestones throughout the year, to increase public awareness and to raise funds for all of urology.  These plans, however, were not to be realised and have largely been put on hold by the Covid-19 situation, which also chose 2020 to declare its presence in a manner which no one could possibly have foreseen.  Therefore, a lot of these events will take place, but will be postponed until next year.  However, we will all be able to meet physically or virtually at our postponed Annual meeting in Birmingham on 9 to 11 November 2020.  Also, every member will receive a free hardback book “Stonecutters – a History of British Urology” specially written to commemorate this moment in our history and take a look into the future.  A big thank you to all involved in these projects.

Over the last few years, I have been very fortunate to have been invited to many Section and Regional meetings and these, whilst all different, have always been informative, welcoming and, most of all, enjoyable. I am very grateful for the warm hospitality and friendship extended to me and other BAUS officers and for the voicing of support or suggestions as to how BAUS can improve matters. I hope you feel that we have responded to those calls. The way we portray ourselves to our members and patients has been diligently handled by our website editor Nigel Bullock, our museum curators Jonathan and Harriet Goddard, and our social media experts Vaibhav Modgil and Néha Sihra.

On a wider scale, we have worked hard to strengthen existing links and create new relationships with other organisations – BAUN, TUF, RSM, BJUI, JCU, NCIP, HQIP, GIRFT, FSSA, NICE, EAU, SIU, USI, NUF (the Scandinavian Urological Society), SLAUS, AUA, and USANZ to name but a few, with many tangible results (joint webinars, sessions within meetings and combined initiatives). It is instructive to see how similar threads run through urology worldwide, the sense of community displayed at these meetings and the high regard in which BAUS is held.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to those who have generously given of their (scarce) free time, often at short notice, for the benefit of us all.  In particular, all the Specialist Sections, their chairs and executives, BSoT,  BURST, Urolink, and Regional Representatives and Council.  I am massively indebted to all the BAUS Officers, Trustees and the permanent BAUS staff led ably by Anne Bishop. We have met virtually on at least a weekly basis, often more frequently since February, to help navigate through the recent rapidly-changing situation.

I am also very grateful to all my Colleagues in Leicester, both in the Department and Trust and also at the University who have been fully supportive and accepted the time I have spent away from base on BAUS business with grace and understanding.  Also I am lucky to have the support of a wonderful family. It is impossible to list every single person who has contributed and I apologise for not mentioning all who have helped in many ways by name.  You know who you are and how much your work is valued.  Thank you.

I am sure that the next BAUS President, Tim O’Brien, when he takes over tomorrow, will lead BAUS to even greater heights with the continued support and help of you all. The challenges, I am sure, will continue and I wish him, and Jo Creswell, the new Vice President, all the very best for the future.

For me, this is the end of 15 continuous years in various BAUS roles (Regional Rep, Andrology Sec, Chair, Honorary Sec, VP and President) and it is hugely satisfying to see the evolution of our members’ organisation into the professional entity it is today.  It really has been a tremendous privilege to have served in all these positions.  In the final analysis, it all comes down to people and we have many of the very best within BAUS and UK Urology.

I hope that when the Covid-19 crisis subsides - or becomes easier to manage - we will have time to gather, reflect and celebrate properly all that we have done and continue to do for our patients, and to demonstrate to everyone that the BAUS motto - Vis unita fortior, “United, strength is stronger” - has never been more apt.

All the very best to you, your colleagues, friends and family.

Duncan Summerton
President of BAUS

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