This year’s Congress in Newcastle will be the first since 1999 that I have attended in the absence of George Prior, erstwhile printer and publisher of Perfusionist who passed away at the end of last year. George was always great company during these weekends as well as being a tireless worker for the Society, transporting the registration stand to the venue and uncomplainingly fulfilling all sorts of thankless tasks during the course of the two days. It goes without saying that all of us who knew and worked with him will miss him greatly, and we reiterate our expression of deep gratitude for the service that he gave to our profession for so many years. Meanwhile, Les Allen, who worked intermittently on the magazine with George, is now the driving force behind its production. For someone who is relatively new to our profession, the Society and the individuals who play key roles within UK perfusion, Les has acclimatised remarkably quickly, and I thank him for all his hard work to date, particularly in terms of the efforts that he has made during the compilation of this larger-than-usual Congress edition. I look forward to continuing to work with Les during the remainder of my time as Editor.
This Congress will also mark the final time that we are addressed by Steve Robins as Society Chairman. Steve is not only a good friend of mine (notwithstanding his inexplicable allegiance to the team in blue on Merseyside) but has also been a considerable help to me professionally during his four-year tenure, particularly regarding suggestions for editorial subject matter. I note from the AGM Agenda and Reports booklet that he bemoans the fact that “I couldn’t deliver regulation for the Society”. He shouldn’t be so hard on himself. Anyone who has had any form of association with the events surrounding the pursuit of professional recognition for perfusionists in Great Britain and Ireland will be unequivocally aware that failure to achieve this is not a function of any kind of underachievement by Steve, Robin Jones or Gerry Webb – notoriously tenacious characters all – but primarily an inevitable consequence of the fact that constantly moving goalposts within the corridors of power have made it virtually impossible for any of them to find the back of the net. It is my opinion that if any of them feel the need to console themselves over this matter, it should be in the form of the realisation that the regulatory mechanism that we currently have in place by virtue of the existence of our College is infinitely superior to any of the compromise solutions that have been offered to us by the Department of Health over the years. One could also contend that it took a brave man to orchestrate the examination and ultimate rejection of Modernising Scientific Careers - for eminently legitimate reasons – when there always existed the possibility that the Society’s acceptance of this education pathway and eventual regulation for the profession may have been linked.
During the course of the weekend in Newcastle, the subject of heater/cooler decontamination is sure to feature prominently. Now that the focus on this issue has been de-escalated somewhat, such that individual Trusts are being tasked with autonomous management of cleaning and anti-bacterial strategies, it is possible to reflect upon the fact that it is both gratifying and surprising that Public Health England has continued to resist the temptation to throw the baby out with the bath water and enforce large scale quarantining of supposedly offending devices, acknowledging as they have that cessation of clinical activity represents a greater risk than persisting with the use of equipment which may or may not be associated with the identification of some form of micro-organism. On the one hand, it seems to be an exhibition of common sense to recognise that an isolated occurrence in a unit elsewhere in Europe should not automatically trigger mass hysteria in every other establishment that possesses the same equipment, while on the other, none of us would have been the slightest bit surprised if the relevant regulatory bodies had elected to throw their weight around a little and create much larger headaches for all of us on the basis of evidence that remains wholly inconclusive. In addition to this, and to turn one’s back unapologetically on the rigours of scientific appraisal, it is natural for those of us who trained in the 1980s to be somewhat sceptical about possible infection issues that may be associated with modern heater/coolers, remembering as we do the nature of the devices that we were using back in the day and the quality and frequency of the cleaning and disinfection “protocols” that were in place then.
See you in Newcastle.
I apologise for the fact that Perfusionist has not appeared at its regular bi-monthly intervals during the course of this year. I have no suitable excuse for this, other than that I have been busy here in Oxford, such that it has been necessary to increase the size of this edition to compensate for the absence of other editions earlier in the year. I am not attempting to get off the hook by saying that this year has been a quiet one so far in terms of news and developments surrounding UK perfusion politics and that the non-production of the magazine will not have resulted in the membership missing out on any essential information. I do, of course, realise that we are in debt to our partners in the commercial world, whose support in the form of advertising revenue constitutes a vital financial lifeline for the Society, and we shall aim to get firmly back on track in the new term after the Congress.