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President's column

It’s been a busy three months since the last newsletter. We marked our 70th anniversary in March, and were delighted that over 100 of our members and some close friends of the Society were able to join us when Prince Charles came to help us celebrate.

We took the opportunity to showcase some of the important work of our members and the Prince was genuinely interested. It was a great occasion and we attracted some welcome publicity for our work. “Little Dorrit” (the “Pets as Therapy” dog) who also met the prince, stole the show for the press. She featured in publications as far flung as the Barrhead News (from Scotland), the Macclesfield Express and the Isle of Wight County Press…and also the Daily Mail…sorry!

The BGS staff team did an absolutely marvellous job of planning and organising the event and huge thanks go to them. Dr Mike Denham also deserves special thanks for his summary of 70 years of BGS history in three minutes - quite an achievement!

We were especially thrilled that Prince Charles agreed to present Baroness Sally Greengross with a medal in recognition of the great friend she’s been to the Society over many years. Sally was previously the Director General of Age Concern and when our society didn’t have the premises we are now fortunate enough to own, Sally allowed us to use the Age Concern offices. She has continued to be a friend and supporter to the Society ever since, as well as continuing to be a tireless advocate for the rights of older people.

The issues around funding of social care (so important to our patients and to their safe and dignified care) continue to be an issue which politicians contest. Hopefully a fair and equitable solution will soon be agreed - we have no shortage of advice from independent reviews (the Barker commission and the Dilnot enquiry, to name two).

Our Spring and Autumn conferences go from strength to strength, and I’m sure that if you attended the Spring meeting in Gateshead you will agree that we had great opportunities to learn, interact and debate with like minded colleagues. The Wednesday was planned by two of our Special interest groups (SIGs) (as is now the pattern), and the Ethics and the Dementia SIGs put on stimulating sessions - the problem was deciding which session to attend!

The bar for the weather has been set pretty high with glorious sunshine at the autumn conference in Glasgow and similarly in Gateshead - no pressure London! (November 22nd-24th - put the dates of the Autumn meeting in your diary now).

One of my duties as BGS president is to represent the society at the EUGMS - a society to which we (as BGS) will continue to belong (just in case you were wondering). One of BGS’s ex-presidents (namely Finbarr Martin) is the incoming president of the European society - great for British Geriatrics. However, there are relatively few other “Brits” on the council and related bodies, so keep an eye out for adverts for vacancies. As the largest and strongest geriatrics society in Europe, we should have a clear voice.

May I remind everyone who has any experience of their STPs (whether positive or negative) that BGS are keen to hear from you. In many areas the plans were ambitious, and it was reassuring to hear Simon Stevens give a commitment that no hospital beds would be closed unless and until an alternative service was functioning and demonstrating an impact on demand. If you have personal involvement with or experience of local STP related service changes, please email Caroline Cooke, our policy manager on ..

We have a wide range of special interest groups and there’s recently been some interest in setting up a “Living Well/ Ageing Well” SIG, with the aim of promoting healthy ageing, and staying well and active into old age. Sir Muir Gray (who some of you heard speak in Glasgow), and who has written the lead article in this issue, is a keen proponent of such a move. Please get in touch if you would like to be involved.

Finally (topically) if you are reading this before (or after) the general election, you may be interested in a new King’s Fund publication. At the time of writing they had released resources which clarify and analyse the potential impact of the different political parties’ manifesto promises on health and social care. You can find them at “”- click on “publications” and then choose “articles” from the options. Whichever party comes in, it will be worth seeing how the realities measure up to the promises in their manifesto!

Eileen Burns
President of the BGS

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