Looking at the Future

The BAPS office was on the road again this week; Kate, Shan and I were scouting out venues for future conferences. First up was Manchester who are bidding for summer 2019 and fronted by the local surgeons Gill Humphries and Paul Farrelly, with George Rakoczy along to provide the Hungarian perspective (Fig. 1).

So what do you need to host the BAPS Annual Scientific Meeting; well a big enough venue for a start. In a typical year we attract about 350 attendees and at some point they may all like to be in the same hall. So first up the catwalk was University Place (Fig. 2) which is a fantastic auditorium within the University campus with the sort of AV you would expect from a 21st century institution. We also looked around the much older Victoria buildings where the graduates will be graduating for possible reception venues with a bit of atmosphere and history.

But Manchester is not a one-trick pony; we taxied across to the “rough end” of Deansgate which has regenerated tremendously since I was a boy loitering around its back-streets. Central to this regeneration was the newest and tallest building in Manchester, The Hilton. Nominally 169 m high, but only the architect Ian Simpson lives on the top floor (49th) so the nearest the public gets is Cloud 23 with fabulous views back to the Pennines and across the Cheshire plain (Fig. 3). On offer would be a more business-like conference with lots of “breakouts” and “parallel” sessions to enjoy. Later that evening we were entertained in a restaurant also on Deansgate – the Hawksmoor. This was a premier-league steak-house where footballers from Old Trafford and the Etihad mingled with Coronation Street starlets and hid in alcoves only waiting for to jump out if caught “unawares” by the paparazzi. As it happens a story broke on the early evening BBC about whistleblowing in the Manchester Children’s Hospital so our hosts were more than mortified with the attention. For the record it was the recently-retired James Moorcroft and Baseem Khalil who blew the whistle over their management favouring electives over emergencies it seems….with tragic consequences.

A quick drive down the M62 to the land of the Scouse and a stay overnight in the newly opened Pullman Hotel in the Kings Dock development on the Mersey waterside. This was to view where BAPS 2018 is going to be held at the ACC Liverpool. This again is a relatively new venture built to the east of the more established Albert Dock (where the Beatles have a museum and the Tate a northern outpost) with multitude of joined up exhibition and conference spaces next door to the Liverpool Echo Arena where bands and boxers appear. Just to get a feel of what kind of convention the place can hold, the day we were there the “European Greens” were holding their annual conference. And yes, delegates were indeed the strangest-looking group of people on the planet. The herbal tea stand was packed out and regular smokers were escorted across the river to Birkenhead to smoke. So next year, all very much on the waterfront with plenty of hotels around and a sea view. What could be nicer?

As it happened before leaving Liverpool we visited Alder Hey hospital ostensibly to gaze in wonder at the new children’s hospital “Alder Hey in the Park”. Now this is modern with flowing wave-like lines, and a roof carpeted in green plantstuffs; a superb open-spaced, spaced-out, out-patients filled with electronic fish (namecheck Sony©); plenty of OR-type ambient-lit operating spaces and something called a BatCave. Apparently they keep a paediatric surgeon Iain Hennessey locked up here until he comes up with innovation and novelties (or “innoveltes” perhaps). It was all a bit modern i.e. it didn’t appear finished – with exposed ceiling ducts and wiring and hard concrete floors.

Anyway Scousers (adopted, expatriate and those out on license) were in the BatCave that afternoon with a surprise celebration for the retiring (only in the sense that he no longer has a job, not that he is shy) Rick Turnock (Fig. 4). Graham Lamont, Paul Losty and a previous professor from another era David Lloyd hosted a series of presentations from Risto Rintala and Simon Kenny and a thought-provoking gut-wrenching story from an ex-Alder-Hey man Muhammed “Mo” Ba’Ath, among others (Fig. 5). He told of his day job which is as the only paediatric surgeon in a hospital in Northern Syria just within sight of the Turkish border. Now surprisingly this is actually a good idea as it tends to deter the Russian and Syrian warplanes who need to keep out of Turkish airspace from dropping ordinance from the skies. They are of course surrounded by a huge population of dispossessed Syrian refugees and their families needing medical attention. Anyway all credit to Mo for all his endeavours and I thought Toxteth was tough.

Mark Davenport