The Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland celebrates its golden anniversary in Manchester later this month. It was initially founded by Sol Cohen as the Vascular Surgical Society in 1966 with the first two meetings held in London and Edinburgh. Since such time, it has met on an annual basis in cities across the UK and Ireland and in 2004 the Society changed its name to The Vascular Society in order to reflect the increasing multidisciplinary nature of its members. In this article, current President Mike Wyatt reflects on his presidency and explains how the Society is facing the challenges of the 21st century.
It is my great privilege to have been elected as the 50th President of the Vascular Society. These are challenging times as our specialty grows and encompasses much of the work that historically has been within the realm of interventional radiology. In March 2012, the Society was granted specialty status following an act of Parliament and separated from general surgery. We have since established a separate vascular training programme and, by a process of national selection, have appointed our own vascular surgical trainees to specialised training posts throughout the UK. The new vascular curriculum mandates that our trainees should develop both open and endovascular competencies in order to pass the new Vascular FRCS and to gain their Certificate of Completion of Training, which will allow them to deliver these skill sets within both the NHS and elsewhere in future years.
There are, however, more training posts than there are trainees. For a hospital to successfully bid for a trainee, there must be “buy-in” from the Training Programme Directors for both vascular and radiology and an agreement to train in both open and endovascular techniques. There are many excellent examples of good medical practice throughout the country, but in those trusts where collaborative practice does not exist, the Vascular Specialty Advisory Committee and the deaneries will continue to withdraw trainees and reallocate them to hospitals where best practice joint training can be delivered.
The Society is highly active in supporting vascular research alongside its political and quality assurance activities. In 2004, it took over the charitable activity of the British Vascular Foundation and formed the Circulation Foundation as the fundraising arm of the Society. Under the careful guidance of its Chairs, the Circulation Foundation has raised many hundreds of thousands of pounds to support the pump priming of research throughout the UK and this has led directly to many major research grants for our members. We are delighted to announce that one of our most loyal supporters, George Davies (Next/George at Asda/PerUna at Marks & Spencer), has agreed to become the Patron of the Foundation and will be introduced to members at our Annual Scientific Meeting in Manchester on Wednesday 30 November, 2016.
The Vascular Society has strong political links with all four of the Royal Surgical Colleges and our President is a member of the Federation of Surgical Specialty Associations. We meet together with the Presidents of the other nine General Medical Council-defined surgical specialties to advise both the profession and NHS England on matters of surgical progress on behalf of our members. I strongly believe that the voice of the Society is essential to the delivery of safe and effective vascular surgical services to all patients with vascular disease wherever they reside in the UK and Ireland.
The Society is strongly represented on the Vascular Clinical Reference Group with both the recent Chairs and the Vice Chair being pivotal members of the Society’s executive. We work closely with the specialist commissioners to deliver achievable service specifications to our trusts and to assist with the ongoing process of reorganisation of the provision of vascular care in these islands. It is clear from recent Department of Health statements that the number of vascular centres will further reduce with time and it is imperative for the Society to ensure that service is provided in a safe and effective way. To this end, in 2015 we published an updated “Provision of Vascular Surgery to Patients with Vascular Disease” document (POVS), which focuses on the role of non-arterial spoke hospitals in the provision of both out-patient clinics, simple angioplasty and the non-surgical management of our vascular patients.
Lastly, the Society continues with its quality assurance activities. With mandated surgeon-specific outcome reporting, it is essential that all data for index operations are submitted to the National Vascular Registry, which is funded, by HQIP and run from the Clinical Effectiveness Unit at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Their 2016 report has just been published and it is imperative that the Society utilises this alongside tools such as the “Getting it Right First Time” initiative and the 2017 targeted Care Quality Commission visits, and has input to the ongoing reviews of service which map to the POVS recommendations as we develop and quality assure the delivery of vascular care in the UK.
I have been delighted to serve the Vascular Society on Council, as Honorary Secretary and, in this 50th celebratory year, as President. We have recently professionalised our administration and it will have been noticed that Fitwise now run our everyday activities. This has reduced costs and increased profits, and I am confident that the Society will continue to grow under the Presidency of Rob Sayers next year.
I hope to see many of you at our Annual Scientific Meeting at the Manchester Central Convention Complex from 30 November until 2 December. Details of registration can be found at https://www.vascularsociety.org.uk/asm/
Mike Wyatt is the President of the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland