The medical students forum of the conference was Co-Chaired by Sai Pillarisetti and Saloni Singh who are Year 4 and Year 5 medical students at UCLan and attend placements at ELHT. Sai Pillarisetti currently serves as President of the BIDA Student Wing and Saloni Singh as National Secretary of the BIDA Student Wing. The BIDA Student Wing is the very first organisation representing the voice of International Medical Students in the UK and has student members across more than 15 UK medical schools, representing more than 33 different nationalities.
President, BIDA Student Wing
National Secretary, BIDA Student Wing
6th of February 2021 marked the National Conference of the British International Doctors Association on the theme ‘Living with COVID 19 and Life beyond’.
Established in 1975, the British International Doctors Association (BIDA) is the OLDEST organisation representing the voice of international doctors in the UK. Ever since its inception, BIDA has played a key role in protecting the interests of the international medical fraternity through numerous initiatives with the aim of achieving equality and fairness for all.
One of BIDA’s recent successes was the scrapping of the NHS International Healthcare Worker Surcharge. The IHW surcharge effectively charged international doctors, nurses and HCAs for using the very healthcare system they served. This surcharge was increased during the COVID 19 pandemic which was faced by very strong criticism and backlash by numerous parties. After extensive lobbying and herculean efforts by BIDA and other partner organisations, they were successful in having the entire IHW surcharge scrapped, which is a testament to the what BIDA stands for.
The conference started off with an address from the BIDA National Chairman Dr Chandra Kanneganti, a GP by profession but also serves as Deputy Lord Mayor for Stoke-on-Trent City Council. This was followed by the Presidential address by Dr Birendra Sinha, BIDA National President and concluded with a short video message from Deputy speaker of the House of Commons, Dr Nigel Evans MP.
The BIDA National conference was honoured by the attendance and participation of many distinguished members of NHS leadership, members of the House of Lords as well as other seasoned members of the medical profession. A few of those who spoke passionately at the conference were Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Chair of Council BMA) Lord Adebowale (Chair, NHS Confederation), Prof Colin Melville (Medical Director, GMC), Sakthi Karunanithi (Director, Public Health Lancashire), Iqbal Singh OBE (Chair CESOP) and others.
The medical students forum was attended by nearly 200 delegates and consisted of fascinating presentations by 3 speakers followed by a panel discussion chaired by Sai and Saloni.
The first speaker was Tinaye Mapako, a Year 3 medical student at Liverpool who serves as Chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) Medical Students Committee. He spoke about the challenges and frustrations shared by UK students during the COVID 19 Pandemic and discussed his experience of leading the Medical Students Committee during this difficult time. He highlighted the measures actioned by the BMA to support students as well as highlighting their action so far with regards to the change in the UK Foundation Year Programme points system.
Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya was the second speaker at the Medical students Forum and spoke about the impact of COVID 19 on junior doctor training. Jeeves is a CQC specialist advisor and was Chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee from 2016 to 2019 and was the driving force behind negotiating the recent Junior Doctor contract which was preceded by one of the most publicised doctor strikes in recent times. Jeeves highlighted how junior doctors were unable to attend conferences and workshops and lack of ability to network and utilise assigned astudy leave which all play a vital part of their post graduate learning. He also highlighted the increase in cases of burnout and the impact of uncertainty on doctors mental health.
The third speaker, Dr Marina Soltan gave an inspirational talk about junior doctors in the frontline contributing as leaders in the healthcare system. She highlighted the several leadership opportunities available to junior doctors in medical research, innovation, education, and policy making, by reflecting on her own experiences in these roles. A good leader creates an inspiring vision of the future, motivates others to engage in that vision, and coaches a diverse team for the delivery of that vision. She reminded us that leadership is a learning experience and senior colleagues will support us throughout this journey. Both Dr Soltan and Dr Wijesuriya recommend the ‘Faculty of medical leadership and management’ for those interested in medical leadership. The session ended with a key message for junior doctors to take time out for themselves and recognise signs of burnout, especially during this busy time in the NHS where we need to look out for each other.