It was a huge honour to take over as President of the Association of Breast Surgery (ABS) at the AGM in Glasgow. It was something that I had been looking forward to for a long time. I had not envisaged that I would be on the stage with my arm in a sling, having had an emergency shoulder replacement after tripping on the hospital stairs and suffering a fracture dislocation. Thankfully I have now returned to work and normality is returning.
My time at the conference was unfortunately short, but I know from the feedback that both the meeting programme and the city itself were a great success. Congratulations to Nicky Roche for organising a fabulous first meeting, to Lucy Davies who coped magnificently with her depleted ABS team and of course all the contributors.
The breast specialty group began as the BASO breast group in 1995, followed by the ABS at BASO. The ABS became an independent association in 2010.
We now have five active committees; Clinical Practice and Standards, Education and Training, Academic and Research, and Aesthetic and International. Each of these committees is active in promoting the charitable aims of the organisation. The Education and Training Committee have taken on the RCS breast portfolio. Following an absence of three years, an extremely successful and oversubscribed advanced breast course was run in Cambridge in March, by John Benson and Ramsay Cutress. Ann Tansley recently ran the first cadaveric course in Manchester with many more to follow.
The Clinical Practice and Standards committee have updated the website with current guidelines and consensus statements. A multidisciplinary guideline on the management of the axilla post neoadjuvant chemotherapy, has just been published in a collaborative venture between ABS, the Faculty of Clinical Oncology Royal College of Radiologists, the UK Breast Cancer Group, the National Coordinating Committee for Breast Pathology and the British Society of Breast Radiology - a truly multidisciplinary guideline and definitely the direction of travel for future guidelines. The website remains an excellent resource for CPD.
The Academic and Research committee have continued to work at our goal of offering every breast patient a clinical trial. The ABS continues to fund innovative research projects and this year we had a record 24 superb applications for these grants; we managed to fund four. Hopefully next year we will be able to fund more.
Through the aesthetic committee, ABS has developed closer working relationships with BAPRAS and BAAPS.
The three associations are working with the MHRA to keep both patients and our members informed, should there be any change in advice regarding any surgical intervention including implants.
The international committee has held its first highly successful oversees meeting in Bulawayo and has successfully obtained a grant from THET to carry out a needs analysis in Zimbabwe, to identify the bottlenecks from presentation of breast cancer to treatment.
2019 is however going to be a year of challenges. We eagerly await the publication of the GIRFT data. ABS will work with GIRFT to ensure the delivery of equitable high quality care throughout the UK. This will be a challenge but along with GIRFT we will support our members, many of whom are working in very challenging circumstances.
Finally, the uncertainty regarding BREXIT contines. Many of us depend on European colleagues to help us deliver our first class service. We await to see the impact that BREXIT will have on the staffing of our already stretched services.
The Association of Breast Surgery remains the voice of Breast Surgery. Please let us hear your voice so we can continue to work to improve patient care. If you would like to be even more involved, then sign up for one of our forums, or apply for a trustee position at the next election.