What made you apply to the position of BAPEN Honorary Secretary?
I had the pleasure of being introduced to some of the other Executive officers at Conference years ago, who all seemed really nice and welcoming. Everyone spoke very positively of BAPEN and the people involved, which sparked my interest in getting involved. However, I genuinely didn’t think that such posts were for ordinary jobbing clinicians like me – I felt that you needed to already have a national reputation. I applied anyhow as I thought (and still think) that BAPEN is a really good and important organisation and to my surprise I was successful, and as they would say the rest is history!
On a serious note, I would really encourage anyone who is interested in any of the committee positions advertised, or even just in getting a bit more involved, to apply for positions when they come up or to get in touch. For me, encouraging new faces and as broad a representation as possible among all our committees from our membership adds to the strength of the organisation.
What have you most enjoyed working on in your role so far?
It’s hard to pick just one best part of being the BAPEN Secretary… Getting to know all our multidisciplinary team of council and membership, representing our members and patients, and seeing the difference that we can make by working together are definitely up there. A good example of this is the work that BAPEN did in the national response to the HPN supply crisis, where we helped establish and run the national allocations process that ensured safe and equitable access to PN across the country. Another instance has been our work in light of the pandemic to rapidly develop COVID resources and practical guidelines.
What have you learnt in your role as Honorary Secretary?
Wow, what a question. I think being involved in the BAPEN team has really reinforced the importance of the organisation, the work we can do together, and the influence we can and should have. BAPEN may be a small organisation but we are increasingly respected as the go to organisation for policy makers. There are too many different areas to mention here, but all our groups and committees have contributed to this growing level of influence.
How does the role of Honorary Secretary sit/work alongside the other Executive members, Council and Trustees?
The secretary role is all about organising and co-ordinating the activities of these groups and is a voting member of each committee as well. This means that you gain a really good understanding of everything that is going on within BAPEN, and are often the first port of call for external organisations that we work with. The secretary is also a Trustee so, together with the other Trustees, has responsibility for the direction that BAPEN takes.
How do you juggle your day job with the requirements of your BAPEN role?
There’s no hiding that it is additional work on top of your day job, but I don’t think it is too arduous. COVID has meant that all our meetings are currently held virtually and there is no doubt that this makes it easier, but I do miss seeing all our teams in person. I think that as the pandemic clears we will keep our regular business meetings in a virtual format with the bigger meetings being held in person, and we have already decided that all these meetings will be held in venues that have video dial in facilities to help those who struggle to get away from work and home life to still attend.
In what ways has your understanding of BAPEN changed since working as part of the Executive team?
During the 4 years I have been BAPEN secretary there have been a lot of changes to the organisation. The first of these was a change in our comms provider which has led to a much bigger and better presence on social media and also the development of UK Malnutrition Awareness Week. We also changed our constitution to allow us to bring in a Board of Trustees, which we have recruited and implemented which is a real step forward for us. Our Trustees bring a huge amount of experience and are really helping us develop the strategic direction of BAPEN.
Why do you think people should get involved with BAPEN?
I’ve really enjoyed my time as BAPEN Secretary and really believe that the wider and more diverse representation we have on BAPEN committees and core groups, the stronger we are as an organisation. In turn, this enables us to better represent our members and, most importantly, drive improvements with and for our patients.