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Chair Report 2021

Message from Dr Anthony Maddox

BAC membership renewals will be sent early September & Dr Maddox reflects on the past year

I have been Chair of the BAC for nearly a year, having stepped into the role at the virtual scientific meeting and AGM in October 2020.

Since this is my first report, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Alison Cropper for her steadfast three years as Chair, much of which was dominated by the challenges of the transition to HPV primary screening. Alison is now our President and I am grateful to her for the continued leadership and wisdom she brings to the role.

The last year has again been dominated by the Covid pandemic and, necessity being the mother of invention, this has continued to challenge us all and has strengthened our online presence and commitment to high-quality webinars and educational events.

Since the last AGM, we have held six webinars covering a diverse range of topics and case studies including cervical cancer audit and disclosure, digital cytology, head and neck FNA and pathologist-performed ultrasound examination. These were presented by biomedical scientists, trainee and consultant pathologists and radiologists from the UK, mainland Europe and the USA. The webinars are free to attend and simply require registration. They have been made possible by the energy and diligence of Alison Malkin and the meetings sub-committee as well as Christian Burt, our administrative assistant.

The webinars have been well attended and have had participants from at least three continents. There are more such events in the pipeline but we are particularly interested in encouraging departments to host short webinars of 60-90 minutes with presentations of interesting cases, audits or service developments. The topics can involve cervical or diagnostic cytopathology or both. The presenters can be medical or non-medical, senior or junior, trainee or trained and it is always great to emphasise the contribution of cytopathology to patient care, perhaps by encouraging contributions from clinical colleagues.

Speaking of meetings, the BAC itself has now been in existence fully ten years and the twice postponed 10th anniversary meeting will be taking place on Friday October 15th 2021.

At the moment, we are hoping for this to be a hybrid meeting, that is some delegates and speakers will be physically present at the DoubleTree Hotel, Nottingham and others will attend virtually. Please keep an eye on the BAC newsletter and mailings for any developments but, however it happens, this promises to be an exciting meeting with some familiar and some new faces, great educational content, and the chance to look back at the last 10 years and forward to the future.

What of the future? As Alison said last year, the BAC is the first port of call for government bodies and other professional organisations who wish to discuss and engage with issues involving cytopathology in all its forms. We work closely with the Institute for Biomedical Sciences, the Royal College of Pathologists and international bodies such as the International Academy of Cytology and the European Federation of Cytology Societies, to name a few. We are attempting to forge closer links with other UK professional organisations such as the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), with whom we share a common aim of acquiring, processing and examining the best possible diagnostic material for patient benefit.

The BAC has also joined the Inequalities in Health Alliance, a grouping of over 140 organisations hosted and convened by the Royal College of Physicians which campaigns for a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities.

In the coming months, we hope to build on these developing links to provide joint educational and, hopefully training opportunities between ourselves, the RCR and the IBMS. We have already held one webinar for radiology trainees and consultants to discuss principles and practice of Rapid Onsite Evaluation (ROSE) in head and neck Fine Needle Aspiration and have more in the pipeline.

Also, in the spirit of collaborative working, the new Editor-In-Chief of Cytopathology, Professor Philippe Vielh, was keen to strengthen the links between the BAC and the journal and, after some brainstorming Zoom sessions, it was decided that there would be a new section within Cytopathology, primarily for (and by) biomedical scientists and pathology trainees. An editorial board for this section has been appointed following a selection process. It is led by Hedley Glencross, whom many of you will know, and has an enthusiastic and diverse membership. Hedley is an Associate Editor and a member of the full Cytopathology Editorial Board.

The new section will be called “Scan” to provide some continuity with the BAC’s “house” magazine which published its final (online) edition recently. It’s an excellent read and provides an interesting and positive overview of the formation and history of the BAC. We owe a debt of enormous gratitude to Sharon Roberts-Gant, who has compiled and edited Scan for many years.

The Executive felt that, with a combination of the BAC newsletter, the new section in Cytopathology and ad-hoc mailings and Tweets, we could provide the same high-quality mixture of articles and information but in a timelier fashion. Hedley has written about the new section in the aforementioned last issue of Scan and there will be more in the coming months.

Regarding the Executive, we have an imminent ballot for three places. There are six excellent candidates, and I would encourage you all to read their accounts of their reasons for standing and, most importantly, to cast your vote!

Finally, Alison closed last year’s Chair’s report with a heartfelt thanks to Paul Cross for all his myriad contributions to the world of Cytology as he stepped down from the President’s role. I would also like to thank Paul for all those things and for extending his stay on the Executive for a further year, before finally stepping down at the AGM this autumn. He has been a major contributor to the BAC and has provided a lot of the energy and momentum for the BAC’s projects. He continues to be involved in Cytology in other professional organisations and has been a much-needed source of advice and wisdom for myself personally and the wider Cytology community. Thanks again, Paul.

Dr Tony Maddox, Chair, BAC.