How did you get involved in BAPEN Council? What was the transition like from being involved in BAPEN Scotland to being Chair?
I was fortunate enough to train as a registrar in a centre for excellence for nutrition care in Scotland. I was inspired by Dr A W McKinlay to promote awareness on malnutrition among my colleagues and to deliver care through the complex nutrition standards. I was appointed to the BAPEN Scotland committee as a trainee representative, and there I had the privilege to work with Dr J Baxter and Dr R Mckee. Both were truly inspiring female figures who consolidated my commitment to “make the difference” through BAPEN. At a BAPEN annual meeting I got to know Dr P Neil who then became my mentor in the BSG programme. Again, her presence in my life gave me the confidence of taking my role forward in BAPEN.
I became Chair of BAPEN Scotland a bit by chance I would say. My predecessor Mr P Stevens had to resign for personal reasons and he approached me directly asking if I felt like taking the role. I brought it to the committee and they all supported my application, hence I became the Chair. I had always felt myself more of a secretary than a chair, but in the BAPEN Scotland committee we are all quite involved in decision making. I feel my role is primarily to be the link between Scotland and BAPEN Council. I am very passionate and I have a natural practical side – I am a doer and problem solver, and this helps me to move things forward.
How important is it for BAPEN to have representation from across the UK?
Maybe because of the legacy of some of the people I mentioned above, I feel very strongly about BAPEN being an organisation which represents the whole of the UK, and which isn’t England-centric. There are significant differences in the setup of the NHS in devolved nations compared to England, especially in Scotland. I am aware of the sentiment of “isolation” previously expressed by colleagues in BAPEN’s Scotland committee. I have tried hard to eradicate this. Recently the wonderful talk Trevor delivered at our BAPEN Scotland meeting was uplifting. I have already noted more engagement since then, which is brilliant. For example, it was great to see we had some data input in the malnutrition awareness database from Scotland. I always say we are a small nutrition community in Scotland, but we have contributed significantly to powerful data and changes. Being represented in BAPEN will only improve our outcomes, and this will be ultimately beneficial for our patients’ care.
What have you learnt in your role so far?
I have learnt a lot about BAPEN structure. I have been involved actively in different role both in the Scottish Society of Gastroenterology (SSG) and the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), but BAPEN is very different. I have learnt about the Core Groups and their amazing work. I got to know people who share my same values and work hard. I am still learning how to best communicate messages with a measured but resolute manner. Taking part in the Council meetings is illuminating and I am inspired after each one. I hope I will continue to learn and be able to contribute further in my position.
What do you most enjoy about your role within BAPEN?
I am mostly delighted to be able to make a difference for nutrition care in Scotland. I enjoy having a direct network with colleagues in Scotland and across the rest of the UK – I feel very supported and lucky to be surrounded by outstanding individuals. In BAPEN Scotland we work very much as a team and I value everyone’s contribution massively. It is rewarding to see how much of a difference people can make and I am constantly learning from all of them.
How do you balance your work/home life with your BAPEN commitments?
Work and family life are very demanding. Clinical commitments pose significant pressure on us, especially now as we are recovering from the pandemic and the NHS is struggling. However, I find commitments outside of my day-to-day clinical work helpful not only to ensure I am always stimulated to deliver the best care possible, but also to avoid burn out. I won’t lie, sometimes it is hard to attend a zoom call in the evening while trying to care for my family after a full day at work, but the accomplishment and drive you get in return makes it worth it.
Why do you think people should get involved with BAPEN?
I would encourage people to be involved with BAPEN as it provides purpose to our work. It is with the engagement of people who can bring their experiences from day-to-day clinical work that we can improve our care delivery. We need more people to take an active part in BAPEN as more perspectives and wider input can be life changing for our patients.