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An update from the President, Professor Roger Kirby

At the start of October, I underwent a knee reconstruction – too many marathons! – and I’m now having to get used to being off my feet. Anybody who knows me will know what a challenge that is! I am having to battle with the frustration of not being able to do the things I want to do.  

It struck me that this is a useful analogy of how it feels for many of you who work in healthcare at the moment. Colleagues can see what needs to be done but often do not have the resources to do it. With record waiting lists and a workforce crisis, there simply aren’t enough people to do all the work. I can understand if this feels as if you are swimming against the tide, despite your commitment and passion for your vocation. We hear a lot about the pressures on the NHS but I want to acknowledge the impact that this might be having on you as individuals. 

As we approach the traditionally hard winter period, and amid ongoing industrial action, I hope that the Royal Society of Medicine can be a source of stability and relief for you. We are proud to have helped our members and the wider healthcare community through challenging periods in the past – most recently, during the darkest days of the pandemic, when we brought people together to keep you informed and, more simply, to provide support. I want to reassure you that we will continue to be by your side over the coming months and beyond. 

In our planning for this current academic year, we were acutely aware of the time and other pressures many of you would be working under. Developing an exciting and useful programme of education that takes into account your busy professional and personal lives was our primary consideration. Led by our brilliant section councils, we have aimed for a much tighter focus on the learning that you need right now, with a healthy mix of in-person and digital options, to suit all circumstances. 

Beyond our core education, we know that the RSM also plays a vital role as a place where you can decompress and escape your day-to-day. We have, therefore, continued and enhanced our programme of social and general interest events. I am particularly proud of our In Conversation Live series, where we give you the opportunity to hear from high-profile and interesting individuals from healthcare and beyond, in a relaxed and informal setting. Our next event is with Dr Harry Brunjes (25 October) and we are honoured to be welcoming the inimitable Stephen Fry (14 November) and Dame Prue Leith (15 November) as upcoming guests. All promise to be fascinating evenings. 

I also want to make a quick plug for our second Tackling Inequalities conference, which will take place on 16 January 2024 and will focus on how innovation can help to address this pressing issue. This extends our partnership with NHS England and provides a unique space for healthcare professionals from all specialties to come together and tackle a shared challenge. It is this convening power right across the spectrum of healthcare that gives the Royal Society of Medicine such a special place in the healthcare landscape. 

Just as we have shared challenges, it is by supporting each other that we can help ourselves and our healthcare system to get back on our feet. 

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