The meeting started with the lighting of the lamp. Dr Ramesh Mehta explained that darkness signified ignorance and light signifies knowledge. This meeting was meant to impart knowledge, exchange ideas and therefore help attendees gain new insights. The lamp was lit by Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Dr Vipin Zamvar welcomed the delegates to this first face-to-face meeting after the pandemic. (There were two online meetings during the pandemic). There were 38 abstracts received of which three had been selected for podium presentation and seven for poster presentation. The first session was on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.
Introducing Dr Ramesh Mehta as the first speaker, Dr Zamvar reminded the delegates of Dr Mehta’s contributions. He said, “Whether we realise it or nor, whether we acknowledge it or not, many of us in the room have benefitted from what Ramesh and BAPIO have done over the last 25 years in order to create a level-playing-field for all of us. Ramesh Mehta has always spoken out against injustice when he has seen it.” Dr Mehta spoke about the various initiatives BAPIO had taken. One of them was the development of the “Dignity at Work” standards that BAPIO published recently. Dr Su Young (Ophthalmology Clinical Fellow) spoke about differential attainment in Ophthalmology in the UK, and the various initiatives now being taken by the Ophthalmology college. Dr Imran Liaquat (Neurosurgeon, Edinburgh) spoke about subconscious bias and hints of racism that still plague the NHS workplace. He gave personal examples from his own experience. Dr Pragnesh Bhatt (Neurosurgeon, Aberdeen) spoke about his life story and how attending a BAPIO workshop twenty years ago, organised by the BAPIO North West Division helped him onto a path that culminated in him becoming a Consultant in Aberdeen. He spoke about how he had been denied a chance to sit the FRCS(Neurosurgery) exams two decades ago, and how he had organised the same exam two years ago in Aberdeen. This was a remarkable journey of a man against so many odds. (By a strange twist of fate, Dr Rajeev Gupta who had organised the BAPIO workshop two decades ago was in the audience listening to Pragnesh Bhat’s story).
Ms Nicola Cotter (Head of GMC Scotland) spoke about the various GMC initiatives in the field of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion. She also spoke about the targets that GMC have set for eliminating disproportionality in fitness to practice referrals. One of the themes of the meeting was “Innovation in the NHS”. Dr Santosh Bongale (ED Consultant, Paisley) spoke about the initiatives that he has developed in his hospital for allowing IMGs taster placements. These placements allow IMGs to experience NHS work first-hand and allow them to settle down better to a life in the NHS. Ms Liesje Turner from Morecambe Bay spoke about the BAPIO training academy and how it had helped Indian doctors prepare for work in the NHS. This is a win-win situation as it allows Indian doctors who wish to come to the UK a path to get GMC registration, and mentorship from experienced UK doctors; and it also helps NHS hospitals who are facing staff shortages and are finding it difficult to recruit. Dr Rajeev Gupta (Pediatrician, Yorkshire) spoke about the potential contributions of Ayurveda to the NHS in managing chronic conditions. He had recently published a book on Ayurveda. Robert Rea (Innoscot) spoke about how Innoscot helps clinicians who have new ideas to move forward to the next step, protect their ideas with patents and then turn those ideas onto commercial success. Barry Alan (Medtronic) introduced the Touch Surgery App which allows surgical procedures to be recorded and stored remotely. These can be downloaded by the surgeons at any time on their phones or laptops and can be used for training. There were two very interesting talks on investments and pensions by Jay Thind and Pree Panchmatia from Thind Wealth Advisory. They provided valuable insights into NHS Pensions and Retirement planning. The delegates provided positive feedback and had a number of questions for them after the event. (If any other BAPIO divisions are looking for medical specialist financial planners, we would recommend them).
There were three guest lectures after the lunch break. Professor Raj Bhopal CBE spoke about his adventures in the Land of Retirement in the time of Covid. He is really doing some phenomenal work even in retirement. Prof. John Frank spoke about the health inequalities by Social class in Scotland. Dr Ananta Dave (President, British Indian Psychiatrist Associatioin, and CMO Black NHS Trust) gave a very powerful lecture on “Women Leaders in the NHS” It was a very inspirational talk, and in my opinion is a talk that should be heard by all doctors in the early years of their training.
There were 38 abstracts submitted to the meeting. Three were selected for the podium presentation, and 7 for poster presentation. The prize winners were as follows: First prize, Shubham Jain (Aberdeen); Second prize, Fatima Zain (Fife); and third prize, Helmi Ahmed (Middlesbrough).
The next session was on “Celebrating Achievements” Professor Andrew Elder (President Royal College of Physicians), Dr Subodh Dave (Dean, Royal College of Psychiatrists); Mr Aman Coonar (President-elect, Society of cardiothoracic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland), and Dr Nitin Gambhir (Lead Dean Director in Scotland) spoke of their journeys from medical school days to the present. All talks were very interesting and inspirational too. The last session had two talks on recent advances in COPD management (Ghourab Choudhury, Chest Physician, Edinburgh) and use of Artificial Intelligence in Plastic Surgery (Vidya Mehendale, Plastic Surgeon, Edinburgh University). The meeting was followed by dinner at a local Indian restaurant. Mr Bijay Selvaraj, Consul General of India at the Edinburgh consulate was the Chief Guest.
Feedback from the delegates was overwhelmingly positive, praising the educational content, inspiring talks, and the opportunity to interact with doctors from various disciplines. The event’s social component was highly appreciated, fostering a sense of community among the attendees.
BAPIO Scotland’s Annual Meeting successfully addressed crucial topics concerning diversity, equality, and innovation in the NHS, leaving a lasting impact on the attendees and encouraging further support and attendance in future events.
Report by – Dr Vipin Zamvar, Chair BAPIO Scotland Division