Bulletin October 2020 Number 192

Welcome to the October Bulletin, with the huge milestone of transition to the electronic format now behind us. I am pleased to say that the feedback so far has been great and we hope to continue to make the Bulletin as reader friendly as possible.

COVID-19 of course continues to have a significant influence, no doubt casting a long shadow ahead over all aspects of our personal and professional activities. Any expressions of increasing fatigue with the topic should not detract from the considerable and ongoing efforts to maintain patient and staff safety in the face of what seems an often unpredictable evolving situation. However, renewed focus is needed to address challenges of maintaining patient care with real concerns that the pandemic has had detrimental effects around diagnosis and treatment in many key areas.

John Forsythe’s excellent introduction to the theme of ‘Organ donation and transplantation’ appropriately acknowledges the major impact of SARS-CoV-2, with the significant initial downturn then followed by recovery of transplant activity (pp187). The onset of the second wave clearly raises concerns but one has to remain hopeful that lessons have been learnt here, and in other fields of healthcare, to minimise the impact of the resurgence of cases. 

Continuing with the Bulletin theme, I was absolutely delighted to receive the varied articles highlighting the breadth of expertise essential to support safe organ donation and transplantation (pp193). In particular, the spirit of partnership between clinical and pathology colleagues is fully evident, underpinning the major advances seen in addressing the needs of so many patients needing life-changing transplants. 

One of the most humbling pieces I have seen for a while is from an altruistic donor eloquently describing his motivation for and experience of donating a kidney (pp200). This collection of many articles will no doubt inform all readers, but as John suggests, will hopefully also encourage interest in a myriad of specialties supporting transplantation.

Our ’Small is beautiful’ section focuses on dermatopathology (pp230) and we also have two articles on forensic pathology and forensic medicine (pp232 and pp234), the latter summarising the framework for maintaining high-quality standards for patient care within a challenging setting.

We continue to have superb support from trainees in writing on a wealth of topics from training (pp222) to pathology issues in relation to the health of the Tudors (pp212)! I also need to acknowledge the considerable ongoing contribution from our trainees in undertaking book reviews (pp242) and I welcome even more suggestions.

The theme for the January 2021 Bulletin will be ‘celebrating the pathology workforce’ and I look forward to articles of interest to medical and scientific colleagues around training, staffing, career support and new initiatives and developments.

We collectively strive to keep patients at the heart of all we do and this includes highlighting further action around ready provision of direct patient access to their lab results (pp238). National Pathology Week (NPW) gives us all a further opportunity to engage the wider public to better inform, engage and spark even greater interest in what we do. The public engagement team have certainly risen to the challenge in producing some excellent resources suitable for awareness activities undertaken virtually, around the apt theme of ‘Pathology at the heart of healthcare’.

I particularly enjoyed judging our ‘Art of Pathology’ competition with wide interest from both the UK and abroad. The front cover represents one of the overall winners. I think the exceptional image captures the calm efficiency needed to tackle ever increasing challenges coming from all directions within the surreal COVID world. More images to come in the January Bulletin. 

Last but not least we will soon be saying farewell to Professor Jo Martin as she comes to the end of her term as President. Many thanks, Jo, for steering us through such unprecedented challenges and we look forward to your ongoing input as newly appointed National Specialty Advisor for Pathology for NHS England and NHS Improvement. I greatly enjoyed interviewing our new President Elect (pp204) – Mike’s responses clearly highlight his commitment to addressing key issues facing the College, harnessing the potential of new developments and, above all, going forward within the principle of very wide inclusion and engagement of members. I also look forward to the new College Diversity and Inclusion plan and we will aim to update you on the progress with this in the next Bulletin.