The President’s Message

February 2017

Challenging times for our hospitals

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So, 2017 is in full swing. The holidays seem a distant memory, the bathroom scales seem to be over-reading (again), HMRC is intent on emptying your bank account and the hospitals have no beds for elective surgery. Otherwise, everything is just great. Oh, and the USA has a new President. I forgot that one.

It is going to be another difficult year for the NHS. Many hospitals are cancelling all routine surgery due to a lack of bed capacity. Surgical patients are disproportionately disadvantaged by bed shortages and waiting lists grow as elective theatres sit empty. Where emergency demand and elective capacity are physically separated, the disruption is significantly less. Not having an Emergency Department at the front of a hospital is an effective way of ring-fencing surgical beds for surgical patients. This requires considerable organisation and financial commitment to achieve. Large conurbations served by a number of hospitals have the opportunity to rationalise where services are located to optimise efficiency, but this is not easily done everywhere. The Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) now being developed in England must address this problem and not just seek to save money.

On a lighter note, AUGIS Council met on 16 January. We turned the agenda on its head for the first time and heard from our Regional Representatives at the beginning of the meeting instead of the end. It was a valuable hour spent discussing the issues in each of our Regions. A common theme was the issue of AUGIS members who work in hospitals which don’t offer cancer or bariatric surgery. AUGIS aspires to represent all upper GI surgeons, not just those working in specialist centres, but we have probably not done this very well to date. We have, therefore, begun work on developing closer relationships with our sister GI surgical Associations (ALS & ACP) to understand how we can support and sustain this critical part of our membership. If you recognise yourself as one of these surgeons please do get in touch with me at president@augis.org and tell me what you think the future holds.

Another common theme was the hunger for and success of local/Regional AUGIS supported meetings. The Executive is now working up a proposal to take back to Council to use AUGIS resources to facilitate such meetings and advertise them through our website. Lastly, we have enlarged the Executive to ensure that all sub-groups within AUGIS, including non-cancer, non-bariatric foregut surgeons, are equally represented.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is beginning a complete re-build this year and the AUGIS office will move across to the Nuffield building with many of the other Associations in late June. Contact details will be unchanged. If you want to attend a broad educational meeting, the ASGBI programme in Glasgow 3-5 May looks good and AUGIS will be contributing. Don’t forget to put Cork in your diaries and register early as the numbers we can accommodate for the dinner are limited.

Richard Hardwick
President