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President's Newsletter (December 2020)

As Christmas approaches and this "year of years" draws to a close, it seems a good time to write to all BAUS members to reflect on the last few months, to give you an update on where the organisation stands and to point you to what we have planned for 2021.  

If you missed my talk at the virtual congress on "The year ahead at BAUS", then here is the link to it on BAUS TV.

For someone like me whose hero in medicine is Edward Jenner, it’s been a good thing to see the vaccination programme getting under way. Hopefully, that will allow the most rapid return to a more normal professional life and, perhaps more importantly, a more normal social and family life relatively soon in 2021. In one sense we’ve been quite lucky as surgeons to still have a purpose throughout the pandemic, but we definitely have not had the normal mechanisms for recharging the batteries. That, I think, has left people feeling tired and, at times, just plain old worn out.

It’s also been a very strange time to take over the helm at BAUS. After all, I’ve been BAUS president now for nearly 6 months and have not yet met the BAUS team, the BAUS trustees or BAUS council in person! The BAUS team have all been working from home with very occasional trips more recently to Lincoln's Inn Fields. Totally bizarre for them, too, but they have stuck to the task and delivered the agenda with aplomb.  

There have been some notable events which I should bring members up to speed on ...


The BAUS Annual Congress 2020

I think everyone is agreed that the virtual congress which took place from 9 to 11 November was a huge success and, to judge from the feedback, was more enjoyable than many members had thought possible.   Great credit is due to the core group that delivered it: namely Asif Muneer, Harry Heald, Ian Pearce and Louise Finch. It was a real step into the unknown, but a successful one. Thank you to every BAUS member who helped make it happen by recording talks, chairing sessions, submitting work, logging in as a delegate, asking questions and giving feedback.

The numbers are astonishing - the most delegates ever for a BAUS congress (n=1818); multiple sessions with over 400 delegates (controversies in bladder cancer; challenge the expert in prostate cancer; urology as a parent; andrology heartsinks; infections); an industry satellite with 480 delegates; 495 delegates tuning in to the TUF interview with British Lion, Alex Corbisiero; and even 370 delegates connecting with a live Q&A with the BAUS president. And all of it delivered free as a member benefit. The content remains watchable for a year on the Launch platform using your unique meeting log in. If you are having difficulty in accessing the platform again or wish to register, please email the Events Team.

The feedback has been fun to read. In truth, it looks like members are split down the middle; many don’t want to go back to face to face congresses whilst, for others, face to face can’t return soon enough. The commonest reasons given for enjoying the virtual format were ease of access and low cost, together with the ability to watch on playback at convenient times (“just watching it now from home in my bed” identity unknown!). The extroverts and night owls, though, clearly missed the networking and the socialising! Everybody wants more interaction in the sessions, whether it be virtual or face-to-face.

The suggestions from delegates for speakers to approach in 2021 were a good read. Thank you for those.  To the delegate who suggested the “CEO of Google”, I wish I had your ambition and confidence in the BAUS brand! One challenge to everyone, and to the team who run the congress – we had only 10 medical students registered. That is just not a state of affairs that we can be happy about. To have more medical school reps (n=33) than medical students who attend congress is way off where we want to be. I would say a target of 100 medical students at summer BAUS 2021 is the minimum we should be aiming for. The medical students are the urologists of the future.

What of BAUS congress 2021?  At the moment this is in the "watch this space" category. There are no plans to defer to the autumn. At the moment, we just don’t know what will be realistic in June 2021 in Liverpool. Currently, BAUS trustees are detailed to meet in mid-January to make some final decisions. A more detailed timetable of abstract submission etc will be available shortly afterwards. Don’t stop preparing your work ...

 

BAUS E-learning

The BAUS webinar programme is underway and has had a very encouraging start. 

The "Controversies in Urology" series launched with "The Future of Prostate Cancer Screening" and has continued with "Controversies in Imaging", "New operations for LUTS – hype or hope?" and, most recently, "Controversies in infection – a world beyond nitro". The series has been developed by Sunjay Jain and been curated by Bev Tomkins in the BAUS office. If you missed the webinars, do click on the website links above. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The programme for next term is available on the E-learning page of the BAUS website.

The online learning for SpR’s took a new turn in the Autumn with the first virtual FRCS Urol revision course - hugely complex to put together, but Hari Ratan, Harry Heald and Louise Finch did a sterling job. It was a success. The webinar programme is well underway - links to the 2020 webinars are on the E-Learning webinar archive page and the programme for early 2021 is also on the website. It should provide an excellent grounding for all exam candidates.

Congratulations to all the successful candidates in the November FRCS (Urol) – we look forward to you becoming full members of BAUS.

The webinar series developed by Anna O’Riordan for more junior urologists is linked to the very successful course for CT/FY doctors in urology which she runs in January of each year. Your FY/CT doctor may be interested in registering for the course.

The final venture has been an exciting industry-focussed series "Innovations in urology" under the jurisdiction of Oliver Wiseman. Three delivered to date on "Fusion biopsy and Space OAR", "Technological advances in ECIRS" and "To CIC or not to CIC? That is the question". Keep your eyes out for more of these in 2021.

A second benefit for BAUS is the new income stream for the organisation that these provide

 

SAS Doctors in Urology

This project develops at pace. Nitin Shrotri has convened the working group. We had an inspiring first meeting in November 2020 and there are changes afoot. Siraj Natalwala has been elected as the SAS rep on BAUS council; we will be including SAS doctors in the workforce report and the first of the mentoring arrangements should be in place in early 2021. 

Anyone interested in contributing to this project should email Nitin Shroti or Siraj Natawala. We are holding an Introduction to the SAS Project webinar on 13 January 2021 and will also be recording a podcast early in 2021 to set out some of the goals of the group.

 

National Fellowship Directors

Anthony Koupparis and Melissa Davies have been working flat out on their plans to understand and improve the landscape relating to fellowships across the UK. They will be in a position to share more towards Easter 2021 but, in the meantime, if you have questions or suggestions about how this work might move forward then do contact them. Watch this space ...

 

New Appointments & Elections

Trustees: 

In December we appointed Gurpreet Singh and Susan Willis as new BAUS trustees. Congratulations to both and thank you to all the urologists who applied to be a trustee. It was heartening to see such interest in supporting the organisation. We are looking forward to the new trustees’ contributions and each will undoubtedly bring a new flavour to trustee debate. The third new appointment to trustees will be in January and will be the first non-urological trustee of BAUS.

Council: 

We welcome Caroline Moore to BAUS Council in an ex-officio role as Research Lead.

BAUS medical student lead: 

In November 2020, Ben Ayres was appointed as the new medical student lead for education at BAUS. He has a fine track record in this area at the St George’s medical school and I know has ideas aplenty. Promoting the specialty at medical schools is a vital role for urologists. With only 10 students registering for BAUS 2020 the only way is up! Interested parties may want to view the film BAUS has made with ITN called "FutUrology".

BAUS workforce lead: 

Steve Payne has agreed to lead the BAUS workforce report until 2024. This work gives us vital information in planning urological services and in understanding better where the pressure points will be. This year, for the first time, we will be including SAS numbers in the report.

BAUS Oncology: 

Congratulations to the four urologists; Jon Aning, Jim Armitage, Benjamin Lamb and Bhavan Rai who were elected to the BAUS Oncology committee, and to Krishna Narahari who succeeds Ben Challacombe as the Oncology Section chair, and Alex Colquhoun who takes over from Krishna as Secretary. Thanks of course are due to Ben Challacombe for his work for the association in the role.

BAUS Andrology: 

Congratulations to Arie Parnham for his re-election to the Andrology Section Committee.

FNUU: 

Congratulations to Arun Sahai for his re-election and Hashim Hashim, Magda Kujawa and Tina Rashid for their election to the FNUU Section Committee, as well as to Mo Belal and Suzanne Biers who were elected to Vice Chair and Secretary for the Section.

Endourology: 

Congratulations to Jake Patterson, Hari Ratan and Subu Subramonian who all stood unopposed and were re-elected to the Endourology Section Committee.

BSoT: 

Congratulations to Neil Harvey who took over from Sot Tolofari as chair of BSoT in the summer and to Paul Sturch and Ben Starmer who were elected as Vice-Chair and Secretary of the BAUS Section of Trainees. 

TUF / BAUS clinical trials unit: 

On Wednesday 16 December 2020, TUF appointed the CHART clinical trials unit in Aberdeen to be the TUF / BAUS clinical trials unit partner for the next 3 years. The team in Aberdeen have an impressive "back-catalogue" of successful urology trials that they have supported, and were the unanimous choice of the panel which comprised Grant Stewart, Caroline Moore, Howard Kynaston and myself. Everyone involved is excited by the new possibilities this more formal arrangement will provide. We hope it will lead to the development of more of the highest quality trials in British urology and, crucially, give people who do not have robust "in-house" research support a chance to get their ideas developed. Clearly a priority for TUF and BAUS in 2021.

 

Communications

Thank you to everyone who logged into the presidential Q&A at the virtual congress. It was a great chance for me to hear "live" the concerns and challenges facing urologists all over the country.

Two strong themes emerged, beyond those relating to congress.  These were "the post Covid urologist in the post Covid hospital" and "Provision of Interventional Radiology" (specifically with respect to nephrostomy). The issues relating to the post Covid situation seem to boil down to questions of "how to do it" in outpatients and "where to do it / capacity to do it" with respect to surgery.

The growth of networks and the use of non-conventional settings has been a major theme of those conversations. I plan for this to be a discussion piece at the next BAUS council and it looks like a logical area of work for a BAUS clinical leads network. If you are a clinical lead or clinical director (or are not a lead but know who your lead is) could you email us with a name and email address. This will be important as we grow the group and liaise more with GIRFT.

Watch out for more podcasts in early 2021 on the BAUS SAS project, interviews with the new trustees and a podcast exploring the "challenges of returning to work after a career break".

 

Prostate Cancer UK launches flagship Clinical Champions Programme

Prostate Cancer UK has developed a clinical champions' programme which provides high quality leadership training for urologists. They have been very supportive of the BAUS clinical leads group. They are seeking more urologists to join the programme and I include their promotional material re that programme below:


“Prostate Cancer UK are seeking passionate and experienced urologists who are driven to improve prostate cancer services in their area and make a meaningful difference for men living with prostate cancer.

"What is the Clinical Champions programme?  This unique opportunity will take you on an 18-month leadership and improvement journey. You’ll develop your knowledge and skills to effectively influence care improvement, navigate the complexity of the NHS, and deliver a project to improve prostate cancer care at a local or national level.

"Prostate Cancer UK has partnered with the innovative organisation, Living Potential, to bring you a bespoke leadership development programme where you’ll receive:  

  • Training on change leadership, system leadership, improvement science and implementing an improvement project
  • Individual support from a member of the programme faculty around your improvement ambitions
  • Time to connect with peers, gather insight and space for reflection
  • Opportunities to meet other inspiring leaders inside and outside of the prostate cancer world
  • Individual coaching and developmental feedback

"Deadline for applications is 17:00hr, Wednesday 6 January 2021. Apply now!"


This programme is open to applications from urologists across the board, and applications from members in Scotland and Northern Ireland would be particularly welcome.  Please share this unique opportunity with peers or colleagues that you feel would benefit from the programme.

If you would like to speak to a member of the Prostate Cancer UK team, please email Sarah Burrows.

 

EAU Crystal Matula Award

This prestigious prize is awarded to a promising European urologist who is aged 40 or under.  Applications should be made to the EAU and require a letter of endorsement from BAUS.  Requests for BAUS endorsements must be emailed to BAUS by 11 January 2021. The deadline for applications is 1 February 2021, and further information is available here.

 

In closing, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Have a wonderful break.

It’s been a bizarre year, like no other, but hopefully calmer more familiar waters lie ahead in 2021, helped along with a little something from Pfizer or Astra Zeneca.

Tim O'Brien
President of BAUS

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