This will be my penultimate newsletter, for having held the post of Honorary President since 2010, and thus exceeding my allotted span by two years, I will be relinquishing office at the Moorfields Association AGM in 2018. My successor, Larry Benjamin, will be well known to many of you and assumes the role of President-elect until then, giving him ample time to settle into the job and become familiar with what the MA is trying to achieve.
My greatest ambition in this final year will be to put the financing of the Association onto a firm footing - something that has been the theme of several of my previous newsletters and which has yet to be resolved. Everything the MA pays for, apart from its administration which is financed from its subscriptions, is entirely dependent on the generosity of Moorfields’ consultants undertaking private surgery within the hospital. That is to say, all the bursaries, all the grants, all the social events, all the archival work that the MA does, even the Arsenal season tickets that we give to non-clinical staff, are only possible because a number of consultants are prepared to give their financial support. The sums are varied and unpredictable, not only because the amount each surgeon donates reflects their volume of private surgical practice in the hospital but also because sadly not all who could contribute do so. Indeed since the ‘private patients’ levies’ were started two years ago, less than 40% of the surgeons have helped fund the Moorfields Association this way. For several, it may be that, despite the reminders that are sent out, it has just slipped their mind, but for others it could be that the MA’s activities have little or no appeal, and if this is the case we must try to earn their respect. Perhaps some of the following may help….
- Since the beginning of 2017, bursaries amounting to over a £1,000 have already been given for a variety of initiatives. One in particular merits special mention - financial support for an out-patient nurse to go on a course to undertake eye clinic liaison officer (ECLO) training to work in the over-stretched Glaucoma Service. It needs little imagination to appreciate the benefit of this.
- At the very successful Annual Alumni Meeting held at the RSM in March this year, nine residents and fellows presented papers on clinical research being carried out at Moorfields. Their congress fees were paid for by the MA – surely an appropriate way to spend consultants’ money.
- At the same meeting the intended deliverer of the annual High Holborn Lecture (instituted in 2013 and funded by the MA) suddenly became ill a few days before, and at very short notice his place was taken by Hugh Williams who talked about the production of an extended version of his film on the development of intra-ocular lens implants entitled ‘Casanova and the Spitfire Pilots’ and showed a trailer from it which was very well received. The MA had contributed financially to the making of the film and Hugh, with characteristic generosity, donated his honorarium to the Association.
- December 2016 saw the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Westminster Ophthalmic Hospital, the forerunner of the High Holborn branch of Moorfields. The event was celebrated by a lunch at the Medical Society of London followed by a mini-symposium in which eight speakers talked about their own specialties under the umbrella title of ‘200 years of ……’. The whole proceedings were recorded and an edited version, which should have considerable archival interest, will be published on the MA website later in the year - surely another appropriate way to spend consultants’ money.
- And in January this year 45 members of the junior clinical staff attended the fourth Residents’ Winter Dinner, hosted by the Moorfields Association when, following an excellent meal chosen by the residents, they were entertained by Nick Astbury, the former President of the College, who spoke about the history of blindness prevention over the past 200 years – again a popular event and surely something the that the consultants should be supporting.
I hope by now that the gist of this newsletter is clear - that the consultants should be prepared to contribute to the education and well-being of the junior staff of the hospital where many of themselves trained and to social events involving alumni. The Moorfields Association by virtue of its position and contacts is in a position to facilitate this.
It only remains of me to thank all those who work very hard for the MA, particularly Susan Hoyal, Peter McDonnell, Richard Keeler and Assad Choudry, for their help and, as the cheers for Chelsea FC again ring down the Kings Road (see Newsletters: May 2012, May 2013 and May 2015!), to wish you all an enjoyable summer and a General Election result that satisfies you.
Tim ffytche Honorary President