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President's Update

October 2021

 

I hope this finds you well and things are feeling more back to normal than the past 18 months. I know many of us have had a difficult time professionally and personally and there are uncertainties about the winter, but maybe now it’s time to be more positive. As you know Covid-19 is not what it was thanks to the incredible NHS vaccine programme and hats off to them. We tried to be part of that scheme but in the end it was the right way to do it and has allowed the country and abroad to become more accessible. On that subject, we are assured that Covid-19 vaccine boosters will be available in the same way as before with no discrimination intended against the private sector. The IDF was at the forefront of gaining that access and ensuring we were treated equally.

The IDF is also getting back to normal. We have had hybrid meetings in our office once again which makes a huge difference, and face to face events are being planned for the run up to Christmas. We have already had a successful weekend meeting in Cambridge with excellent feedback and plans are being made for similar events in 2022. The success of our webinar programme means these will continue, as the format is accessible and popular, so we will have a mixture going forwards. We have new staff members and committee chairs to ensure that fresh faces and new ideas are forthcoming and there are some interesting plans to increase our public profile. Private sector accessibility has been highlighted recently in the press with IDF and myself appearing in numerous articles (and one radio interview) on the demand for face to face consultations, as they become rarer in the NHS.

I am pleased to say the BAME support group is up and running now and we would welcome any other groups that might benefit from a protected space to meet. The IDF’s ongoing projects are still progressing including benchmarking metrics for the private sector, NHS data sharing (although this is proving more complicated of course, but not for want of effort), our website update, and regular meetings with CQC; we also plan to improve information sharing from NHS England to the private sector, especially important in light of the pandemic.

 

 

 We have maintained financial security despite such a tricky 18 months, but prudence has proved to be wise and we are in a strong position to invest in projects next year. Our membership numbers have also continued to grow for both medical and corporate members, which is a huge relief for an organisation such as ours, so thank you. The private sector certainly seems to be thriving with numerous high-profile clinics opening in recent months, enhancing the range of services and expertise to our patients, and good luck to them and our members involved.

The legacy of Covid-19 will of course last for a long time, but as with HIV 30 years ago, many positive developments will also help patients and our profession. These include effective infection control systems, technological advances in communicating with our patients, pandemic planning, and data sharing with the NHS (as we will not let that pass), as well as new vaccines and treatments. I also think we might even care about each other more. Patients have always been our priority and will remain so, but Covid has helped us to realise that empathy and compassion for our colleagues are just as important. This is never an easy career choice and clinical responsibility stays with us every minute of the day, but by supporting each other we can share that load and I am indebted to my colleagues, mainly IDF members, who have supported me and my patients throughout this time and going forwards.

This is my final six months as President and it wasn’t what I was expecting! The challenges of Covid-19 were new and scary and our whole world was turned upside down whilst trying to run my own business and the IDF. With enormous help from the IDF staff and our committees, which carried on regardless, we did it and I hope the IDF grows stronger as we get our lives back.

With best wishes and I hope to see you in person soon.

Dr Neil Haughton
IDF President