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Devolved Nations Liaison Officer Lauren Bennie recently attended the Scottish Society for Rheumatology's (SSR) annual conference in Edinburgh. Here, in a richly descriptive blog, she summarises the experience.


Organised by Dr Hema Bhat and Dr Sara Else, more than 100 members and non-members attended SSR's annual conference. This year’s Watson Buchanan Memorial Lecture was given by Professor David D’Cruz on antiphospholipid syndrome, sometimes known as Hughes syndrome, a disorder of the immune system that causes increased risk of blood clots.


Amongst several oral presentations, fourth-year medic and speaker Katie Turnbull presented How good are JAKs? A review of clinical outcomes in all Clyde patients. A standout presentation, it was exceptionally well-received; there were cries from the floor asking how to ensure Katie specialises in rheumatology. I swiftly placed an invitation to our rheumatology taster day at the V&A Dundee on 16 November straight into her hand...


Session Q&As were lively affairs, with delegates calling throughout the conference for support to mount a national campaign around the impact of mental health on rheumatology services and the need for rheumatology psychologists in all 14 Local Health Boards in Scotland, not just Aberdeen and Fife. As part of this, SSR President Dr Anne McEntegart updated the society on ongoing discussions BSR and SSR are having with Scottish Ministers and civil servants on the topic.


What is most noticeable and perhaps unique nationally, is the specialty’s knowledge and recognition of their peers and the work they undertake. At each Q&A session, panel chairs identified queries and comments from the floor by the questioner’s first name.


At the conference dinner in St Leonards Hall, Dr Maciej Brzeski's dinner speech received a standing ovation. The room was full of admiration for their colleague and friend. I felt honoured to be in the room that night; Maciej’s speech was peppered with good humour and historical references about rheumatology’s evolution, from gold medical procedures to the more questionable pharmaceutical merchandise colleagues received on a regular basis. There was also time for reflection, as the speech celebrated educators and leaders in Scottish rheumatology, who were also present.


The SSR conference dinner is a rare opportunity to observe and engage with the past, present and future of rheumatology in Scotland. Trainees, clinical research fellows, clinical nurse specialists, university professors, physiotherapists and rheumatologists sit side-by-side, discussing how, at the heart of it all, everyone in the multidisciplinary team has ideas and drive to improve patient care.


SSR’s annual conference is often the only opportunity members have in their year to come together in national cohorts. This is particularly true for the rheumatology nurses - so collaboration and knowledge exchange occurs the moment delegates walk through the door. Through our Rheumatology Taster Days, BSR plays an important role in showcasing the special nature of rheumatology as a career, highlighting the camaraderie on display at SSR's conference across the country, and, of course, encouraging its uptake.


The Scottish Society for Rheumatology annual conference returns in 2020. I'll see you there.