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Role and work of the BGS

The BGS is a professional association of doctors, nurses and other health professionals dedicated to improving healthcare for older people.

Geriatric Medicine
Geriatric medicine is the branch of general medicine concerned with the health care of older people. The term geriatrics comes from the Greek geron meaning ‘old man’ and iatros meaning ‘healer’.

Older people are the main users of health and social care services and their high morbidity rates, different patterns of disease presentation, slower response to treatment and requirements for social support, call for special medical skills. Geriatricians provide high quality clinical care for older people as part of a multidisciplinary team during acute illness, chronic illness, rehabilitation and at the end of life, in both hospital and community settings.

The challenges of frailty, complex co-morbidity, different patterns of disease presentation, slower response to treatment and requirements for social support call for special medical skills

Presentations of illness in old age are often non-specific:  Geriatricians focus on falls, immobility, incontinence and confusion as well as adverse drug reactions.  We see a broad range of illnesses, particularly stroke, heart disease, infections, diabetes, delirium, and the dementias.  Some Geriatricians deal with the whole range of Geriatric problems, particularly those who spend some time working in the community.  Others specialise in such areas as Orthopaedic Geriatrics, Stroke, Falls and Syncope, Cerebral ageing, Parkinsonism

At its core, Geriatrics requires comprehensive assessment of ill and disabled old people.  This involves close inter-disciplinary working with nurses, therapists, pharmacists, dieticians, social workers and many other health professionals. We work closely with GPs, Old Age Psychiatrists and many hospital clinical specialists to ensure that old people receive the highest possible levels of care

The British Geriatrics Society
The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) was founded in 1947 for “the relief of suffering and distress amongst the aged and infirm by the improvement of standards of medical care for such persons, the holding of meetings and the publication and distribution of the results of research”.

Today, the BGS is a professional association of doctors practising geriatric medicine, old age psychiatrists, general practitioners, nurses, therapists, scientists and others with a particular interest in the medical care of older people and in promoting better health in old age. It has over 3,000 members worldwide and is the only society in the UK offering specialist medical expertise in the wide range of health care needs of older people.

The BGS is an advocate of equal access to health care treatment. It believes that all older people should be entitled to a comprehensive assessment, a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan, regardless of their age. 

The BGS uses the expertise of its members to inform and influence the development of health care policy in the UK and to ensure the design, commissioning and delivery of age appropriate health services. The BGS works closely with other specialist medical societies and allies itself with age-related charities.

The BGS strives to promote better understanding of the health care needs of older people. It shares examples of best practice to ensure that older people are treated with dignity and respect and that wherever possible, older people live healthy, independent lives.

Publications and Resources
The BGS publishes a scientific journal, Age and Ageing, six times per year. This is available on subscription and is sent to all BGS members. 

The BGS publishes statements of best practice and position papers on the management of specific conditions and audit results.

The BGS newsletter, published six times per year, informs members of national events and developments of note within the area of older people’s care.  It is published in both print and online.

Scientific Meetings and Events
The BGS holds two scientific conferences each year, at which researchers present work into ageing and age-related conditions. The conferences include keynote speakers of international repute, platform and poster presentations and workshops.

The BGS also holds events on topical issues, such as care home medicine, in order to foster multidisciplinary links and to further the professional education of members and non-members with an interest in older people’s health care needs. See the events listed above under Conferences and Events.

Grants, Fellowships and Prizes
The BGS promotes and administers a number of grants, fellowships and prizes to further professional education, and research into ageing. Some fellowships are co-funded with other bodies and can lead to substantial awards.

A Unified Voice
The BGS is governed by a board of Trustees which is responsible for overseeing the operations of the BGS in the UK. 

The Committee comprises of eight officers elected by the membership, national representatives for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and representatives from six Standing Committees: Academic Affairs & Research, Clinical Quality, the Age & Ageing Editorial Board, Education & Training, Finance and Policy and Communications.

The national representatives on the Trustees' Board are nominated by BGS councils for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These councils oversee health policy in their respective countries and enable the BGS to coordinate its activities and to provide its members with appropriate support.

Trainees and Specialist Nurses Groups

The BGS has a supportive trainees group and Specialist Nurses Group which facilitates discussion and networking and provides support and advice on on a range of issues related to training and older people's care.

Special Interest Groups and Sections
Many geriatricians choose to practice or research specific clinical and management areas. In order to draw together their collective expertise, the BGS has several Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Sections.

The SIGs and Sections respond to consultations and provide expert advice as required to journalists and other specialist societies. They publish and review clinical guidelines, prepare policy statements and share their knowledge at the bi-annual BGS Scientific Meetings. Some also hold their own educational and training events, which are open to non-members.

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