Mr Nick Maynard
It has been a couple of months since the Belfast meeting, and the memory gets even better with time! With all the uncertainty in the build-up, it is impossible to describe how good it was having a face-to-face meeting and actually being able to see each other properly rather than on screen. We had a fantastic few days, both academically and socially, the numbers of registrations exceeding all expectations with nearly 400 face-to-face attendees and 300 virtual registrations, including nearly 80 from China. Giles had planned a “multi-society” UGI Congress for some years, and it was fitting that his Presidency should end with such resounding success. Before talking about the future, I would like to pay tribute to Giles as our outgoing President. Bill Owen (older members of AUGIS will remember him as one of the great oesophageal surgeons of his generation) once told me that it was always easier when starting a new job if you followed on from someone who was not very good! I of course have chosen the hard way to start my Presidency, and Giles will be a very hard act to follow. It is no exaggeration to say that Giles has led AUGIS quite brilliantly over the last few years during some of the most difficult times any of us can remember.
We have of course come through these difficult times well and I can confidently say that the future is looking very good for us. AUGIS is a very different Association than it was a few years ago – it is far more inclusive than previously, and we now have 8 committees embracing all subspecialities and aspects of Upper GI surgery. Our trainees of course are our future, and it is impossible to overstate what the Roux Group has done for Upper GI surgical training – we look forward to the Roux training weekend in March, and we know that with trainees like these, the future is very rosy indeed.
There remain a considerable number of Upper GI Surgeons and other health care professionals who are not members of AUGIS, and we must continue looking at ways to improve AUGIS so that everyone wants to join. The regional representatives on the AUGIS Council and in the Roux Group have an important role to play in this respect and through them we will work hard to ensure AUGIS listens to everyone and provides them with what they want. I am very keen to improve our data collection and setting and monitoring of standards for the clinical services we provide. Our specialty should be rightly very proud of the National Oesophagogastric Cancer Audit (NOGCA) and the National Bariatric Surgery Registry (NBSR), but we need to be able to collect similar data for our other subspecialities. The NOGCA Team has agreed with HQIP and NHSE to run a feasibility study to set up a pancreatic cancer audit, BBUGSS has set up the National Hiatal Registry, and we are working closely with the National Consultant Information Programme (NCIP) to develop a secure online portal that will allow our members to review their activity and patient outcomes against local and national benchmarks for all our Upper GI surgical subspecialties. We are also updating our Provision of Services document and hope to publish that on our website early next year.
Earlier this year we wrote of our recognition of the significance of the Kennedy Report, the recent independent enquiry into the lack of diversity within the RCS England leadership and ecosystem,
and our commitment to be a leading organisation in inclusivity and ethical practices. We will shortly be publishing our mission statement on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and will be asking the membership for volunteers to join the EDI Committee to develop our detailed programme of how we will tackle these issues.
It is a huge honour for me to be your President and I am excited about the next two years. I am lucky to have a fantastic Executive and Council to work with, and of course the ever-present Sarv and Nichola who do so much work for AUGIS behind the scenes, and without whom AUGIS simply could not function. Andy Smith has developed a great webinar programme which will run from November to April each year, and this will be supported by industry as a result of the work Iain Cameron has done in building up such strong corporate relationships and support. Steve Fenwick has steered our finances through the pandemic quite brilliantly despite much reduced income, and it is largely due to his skill that we are in a better state than many of us predicted. Lastly, with all the recent and expected changes in AUGIS, we will need to make some important constitutional changes – Simon Galloway will take us through these changes with his normal extreme efficiency and will consult with the membership over all these changes.
We are all mindful of the escalating Omicron variant of COVID and the potential disruption of the services we provide for our patients, and of course the increasing huge backlog of patients waiting to be treated. Please do refer to our previous COVID guidance on the website, and we will of course update this as and when appropriate. Despite the challenges facing us, I hope you all manage to have some rest and enjoy the festive season over the next few weeks
President of AUGIS