Academic Year 2014-15 Report

Report by Phil Mannion on his year as President

The academic year commenced on Wednesday 17th September  when Dr Sally Shaw handed over the Presidential responsibilities to me for the year.  The theme to my Presidential address was twofold – Initially a brief outline of my life before and within medicine, followed by a more scientific account of the advances in the technology in my specialty of clinical microbiology (and virology). Mechanisation is only now impacting on microbiology and it will be of interest to see how service delivery changes to accommodate it along with a 24/7 type of service. An excellent meal (as always) was the reward for the audience and we all left looking forward to future events.

The first academic meeting was a superb lecture by Professor Malcolm Bennett, Professor of Veterinary Pathology at Liverpool University on Thursday 9th October. The title “What is one health”       gave little away but for those interested in infection and the spread of infectious disease it was a very thought provoking talk that questioned most of what is in the text books in terms of primary sources of infection , vectors and reservoirs of infection. Malcolm has particular interests in disease ecology and the role of wildlife in human and animal disease. Unfortunately the audience on the night was much reduced due to traffic gridlock around Chester (multiple motorway holdups/accidents) and an unseasonal, sudden heavy fog. For those that made the journey on the night it was well worthwhile.

The next planned meeting was intended to introduce some of the new junior medical staff to the society. Following a previously successful format invitations were circulated for the new juniors to present a brief account of their elective experience using only one image (“an elective in one”). It was intended to be in mid-December, but a lack of applicants meant it wasn’t possible to hold the meeting.

The winter social event was a dinner at the Double Tree Hilton, Hoole on Friday 23rd January. About 30 members had an excellent meal and it was a great opportunity to catch up with friends/colleagues and our social secretary (Dr Gerry Doyle) had organised a pianist to provide musical accompaniment for the evening. Everyone came away having had a very enjoyable meeting.

The next academic meeting was on Wednesday 28th January. The speaker was Simon Mann, Development Director of Chester Zoo. His presentation “Chester Zoo, Past, Present and Future” was an overview of the activities of Chester Zoo both from the perspective of its’ conservation work around the world and its’ place in preserving endangered species and then he outlined the plans for the future. Chester Zoo is a charity and central to its’ plans is the “Islands” project and the boost that is expected to give to tourism in Chester.  The meeting was very well attended and everyone looked forward to experiencing the Islands project first hand.

Wednesday March 11th was the next academic meeting entitled “Three men in a”. Yours truly, Canon Chris Samuels and Mr David Campbell recounted their adventure of driving an almost 20 year old black cab from Chester to Venice via the Alps ! It was a light hearted evening with each speaker covering different aspects of the journey and the purpose behind the drive. The taxi was a competitor in the 2014 Thundercrawl Rally.  Chris is the current chair of the trustees of a national charity “Children in Distress” and the drive was a fund raising trip to fund hospice beds and other amenities for the charity in Roumania. The taxi made it successfully to Venice though on some of the Alpine passes it could only manage about 14 mph !

The Presidential Prize evening was held on Wednesday 11th March and was an opportunity for medical staff in training to present papers on their chosen subject. There were contributors from both primary care and the hospital. As always there was a very high standard of presentation and cash prizes were awarded to the winners. Mr Janardhan Rao was officially the timekeeper but he did an excellent job of organising the speakers and leading the questioning such that the meeting ran perfectly to plan. The judging panel comprised Dr Sally Shaw, Dr David Ewins and Dr Jamie Fanning. The audience also had the opportunity to vote for their first choice and there was unanimous agreement from the judging panel and audience as to the overall winner. Dr Sumra Sarvan won both first prize and the Austen Elliott GP prize as he presented a general practice related topic entitled “Osler’s Advice”. There was a clean sweep from general practice on the night with Dr James White judged second (“A serious cause of abdominal pain”) and Dr Joanne Byers in third place (“Myelofibrosis”). Everyone agreed how high the standard of presentations were both in content and in the style of presentations. It was also an opportunity to hold the society AGM during the break whilst the judges deliberated. I gave a brief account of the society year and Dr Shirley Bowles (treasurer) presented the accounts.

During May/June I suggested we needed a questionnaire to try and find out what the membership wanted and to try and engage with colleagues locally who chose not to join and engage with the society.  With the help of council members and especially Zoe Jones (Post Graduate Co-ordinator) who was able to transform it into a survey monkey format we circulated it to members and non-members alike. We had about 75 respondents and we will reflect the responses in the planning for the forthcoming academic year. The full survey and summary is available on the society website.

Thank you for your support during the year and I am sure we all will wish the best for the incoming President, Dr Dorothy King.

Dr Philip T Mannion,

Consultant Microbiologist

September 2015.