It was a huge honour to take over as President of the Association of Breast Surgery (ABS) at the conference in Belfast. The two day meeting attended by over 800 delegates clearly demonstrated that our Association has developed into a vibrant, forward-looking organisation committed to improving the quality of breast surgery and overall care of our patients.
The delivery of our charitable aims was apparent throughout the conference programme with a wide variety of educational opportunities available to attendees across the spread of breast care. The work of our Academic and Research Committee in identifying the opportunities and priorities for breast cancer surgery research was showcased, as well as progress reports on ABS research development grants and the promotion of ongoing surgically led trials. Discussions centred around new initiatives and collaborations such as iBRA-Net, where the aim is that there should be 'no innovation without evaluation'; the development of new guidance in collaboration with other disciplines for the management of B3 lesions and duty of candour and updates on surgical training and the new breast curriculum, as well as a look into the future and the use of robotics in training. The programme also featured nursing themed sessions for our ever expanding nursing membership and a successful collaboration with Symposium Mammographicum. The general election and purdah meant that it was not possible to receive updates from the Screening Audit and the National Audit of Breast Cancer in Older People, but these will be published shortly. The conference certainly achieved the aim of promoting good practice through information sharing and networking and congratulations go to our Meetings Secretary, Katy Hogben, Lucy Davies and the ABS team and to all contributors.
The ABS grew out of its 'mother' organisations, the BASO Breast Group and later the ABS at BASO.
It was nostalgic that at the ABS Dinner at Titanic Belfast, seven of the eight previous
Presidents/Chairmen were present and able to mark the occasion with a photograph on the
Titanic staircase with ABS Vice President Julie Doughty and myself. The only absentee was our founding Chairman, the late Roger Blamey, who was fondly remembered in numerous stories of those present.
The recent conviction of Mr Ian Paterson has raised many generic issues relating to the governance of healthcare, as well as some specific issues for breast surgeons and their multidisciplinary teams. First and foremost, the ABS would like to express its sympathy to the patients who have suffered as a result of Mr Paterson’s actions. Although he has never been a member of the ABS it is essential that appropriate lessons are learnt moving forward. The ABS will use this as an opportunity to continue to work with patients and our membership to further raise the standard of breast care through the development of appropriate clinical guidance, education and training, research and audit.
The Association of Breast Surgery is growing rapidly and it is important that it continues to meet the needs of its membership. If you are a member and have any views or ideas regarding this we want to hear from you, please contact the ABS Office. If you want to get involved there are many opportunities to do this including standing for election in the forthcoming ABS elections.
President of the Association of Breast Surgery