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Manchester Meeting Covid 19 Update

On the 9th March the BSCOS Board decided that, despite the Covid-19 alerts and the Israeli colleagues’ restrictions in travelling, it was appropriate to proceed with the meeting. However, a number of parameters changed since.

• The Government has now moved from the containment phase to one of delay in its response to the virus. This is an acknowledgement that we anticipate the number of cases to escalate significantly and that we expect this virus to be with us for many months.

• The Israeli colleagues have been advised against gathering in groups of more than 15 people and cannot travel in their country. This precludes the arrangements for remote participation, even of some of the keynote speakers.

• We are receiving an ever-increasing number of cancellations, requests for remote access and notifications of Hospitals Trusts cancelling leave. The self-isolation guidance has been updated to a more stringent one. A significant number of colleagues will be unable to physically attend the meeting.

• The RCS has cancelled all activities that include travelling.

The Board had to consider primarily the safety and well-being of the meeting participants but also the financial impact of a meeting cancellation, given the short notice and our financial obligations to the venue and catering. With the Board’s support, the Manchester team led by Naomi Davis negotiated a cost-neutral postponement of the meeting for 12 months. We hope that the Israeli Society will be able to join us for a 2021 BSCOS/IPOS joint meeting at Manchester once the tempest of Covid-19 has gone.

The Board has met (by teleconferencing) repeatedly in the past few weeks and has been in constant communication with the organising team at Manchester and the IPOS President, Dr Sharon Eylon, throughout this week. We have given thorough consideration to all options and have reached this decision with full understanding of the consequences. We understand that, although registration fees will remain valid for next year, many members may not be able to reclaim their funds for travel and accommodation. We hope you will understand the reasons behind this decision and will support the Board and the organising team in moving forward with this plan. We also hope that both the participants and our sponsors will agree to transfer their bookings to next year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Naomi and the Manchester team for the hard and often stressful work they have invested in trying to make this meeting work. I think it gradually became clear to all of us that we were no longer in a position to arrange a safe and successful meeting. I believe that Manchester 2021 is the best way forward.

I would particularly like to thank the keynote speakers and hope they will be willing to lecture at our Society’s meeting next year. Finally, I would like to thank our Sponsors for their patience during our changing arrangements and their ongoing support of BSCOS.

The Board will meet next week to go through the logistics of re-organising everything for next year. I am mindful of the fact that we are missing this year’s AGM, including the discussion for Equality and Diversity and will look at options for implementing these discussions as soon as possible.

With best wishes

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Tim Theologis
BSCOS President, on behalf of the BSCOS Board

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