Thursday, 28 May 2015

Reflections from British Society for Rheumatology Conference 2015

Reflections from the British Society for Rheumatology Conference 2015, Manchester UK

      I had the privilege of attending the recent British Society for Rheumatology AGM in Manchester, UK from the 28th -30th April. It was a privilege as this was the first time in 5 years that I was able to attend the whole conference. In years past, I had the responsibility of looking after the ward and department. So, this year was my turn to attend and I was looking forward to the attending UK's premier rheumatology gathering.
    As soon as the train passed Stockport, the weather changed from the Berkshire sunshine to the Lancashire grey and wet. I had forgotten to bring my raincoat and umbrella! Soon I was at the conference centre, all warm and dosed up with caffeine from the exhibition booths.

Manchester Central - venue for BSR 2015
          It was nice meeting up with colleagues from far and wide, sharing and discussing all things in and out of rheumatology. One of the first delegates I met was Martin Lau @ImpactSports9 . It was good to meet him in person, our previous contact was on twitter.

With Martin Lau @ImpactSports9

          The BSR 2015 app was helpful in planning the day at the conference. After poster viewing on the first morning, I attended the session on optimising service to RA patients. A very relevant session in the current NHS climate where the challenge is to deliver the best service with finite resources.

         After lunch, the next session was aptly named Jewels in the Crown. The keynote address was from Sir Mark Walport who gave an excellent review of how future healthcare will be shaped.

          This was followed by the prestigious Heberden Round which was delivered by Prof. David D'Cruz. The lecture was titled Lupus and the art of clinical medicine. The lecture kept to the high standards and tradition of William Heberden (1710 –1801), a distinguished physician.

          There was a lot of new information on the use of technology including apps and software that could be used in clinical practice. More work needs to be done to see how applicable these technologies will be. The day ended with a session on the use of such technologies and if they may break boundaries in RA care.

        The second day started with poster viewing and then the session on essentials in rheumatology. This was a session on disease assessment and management. A very practical and useful session.

        A quick dose of coffee was then followed by viewing of posters on the spondyloarthropathies. Lots on new initiatives in the area which is really exciting. The next three sessions were focused on infection,  autoimmunity and the role of the microbiome in inflammatory arthritis.

       In the afternoon, it was the turn of the second of the Heberden presentations. The Herberden Oration was presented by Prof. David Scott. A tremendous presentation on the excellent work through the years to improve RA outcomes.

         The day was finished on the high at the Conference dinner held at Old Trafford, the home to Manchester United. I took the pre-dinner stadium tour and got the see the Theatre of Dreams in a little more detail. The highlight was visiting the home team changing room and walking down to tunnel leading to the arena. We were entertained by an after dinner speech by ex-Red Devil star, Norman Whiteside.

The Theatre of Dreams

With Norman Whiteside
             The final day of the conference started with poster viewing. The next few sessions were very clinical, focusing on clinical guidelines, management and use of biologic treatments.

        Finally, to round up the conference, I chaired the Spondyloarthritis Special Interest Group Meeting. This was the last session at the conference and I was encouraged that 80 attended! We even had the main auditorium for the meeting. The speakers did an excellent job updating us on topics relevant to the area of spondyloarthritis.

          I came away from the meeting with new information that will be shared with the team as we deliver our service to patients. It was a well organised meeting and an opportunity to share and exchange information with fellow rheumatologists. I look forward to BSR Glasgow 2016.

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