Brenda presided over Congress 2009 in Birmingham, which was a resounding success, ably organised by Mr Winfried Amoaku, Vice President and Chair of the Scientific Committee, and Heidi Booth-Adams, Head of the Scientific Department.
In 2009 we also had a significant rearrangement of College Officers. Mr David Cottrell stood down as Vice President and Chair of the Education Committee after a highly successful term of office in which our curriculum was greatly redesigned. He was succeeded by Mr Larry Benjamin. Miss Carole Jones became Vice-President and Chair of the Training Committee, Mr Peter McDonnell became Honorary Treasurer and Mr Bernie Chang was elected Honorary Secretary. I was delighted that I managed to persuade Mr Nick Astbury, a past President, to take over as Chair of the International Committee. I am most grateful to all of the College Officers for their tireless efforts and immense expertise.
In June we held another memorable Seniors’ Day. This event, now very much part of the College calendar, sees around 30 retired fellows visiting the College for the day, where they are entertained and informed by a series of lectures (the man from the GMC was set upon for matters to do with retention fees, but escaped with his life) and enjoy lunch.
Also in June, we had the Annual Admission Ceremony, held in the nearby Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, where diplomas were awarded to successful candidates in examinations. We also conferred Honorary Fellowships on Professor Sohan Singh Hayreh, Mr John Wright and Mr Redmond Smith for their many contributions to ophthalmology.
In August NICE brought forth their guidelines on glaucoma, followed with very little delay by guidance from the Association of Optometrists to their members on referral criteria for ocular hypertension which were, many felt, over cautious and likely to lead to many unnecessary referrals to the hospital eye service. Professor Steve Vernon, with his colleagues Mr David (Ted) Garway-Heath and Mr Alan Rotchford did an excellent job on a joint working party with the College of Optometrists to agree less stringent criteria for referral. The guidelines themselves were very good and, among others, Mr John Sparrow and Miss Wendy Franks made extensive contributions.
September saw the first meeting of an academic group under the auspices of the College, which we hope will encourage more young ophthalmologists to enter academic ophthalmology and encourage high quality research. Later in the year, I visited the Medical Research Council with Professors Andrew Dick and Andrew Lotery, where we had very constructive discussions on new research posts in ophthalmology.
In November our Patron, HRH The Duke of York visited the College for the first time since 2003. He saw demonstrations of the cataract surgery simulator, the Moorfields psychophysical test for early glaucoma, and heard presentations on ophthalmic trauma in Service personnel from Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Jacks and on trachoma from Mr Saul Rajak and Mr Matthew Burton. He stayed half an hour longer than we had expected, so we assume he found the visit interesting. I would like to take the opportunity of thanking all members of Council, as well as those College members who serve on the various standing committees, who give up their time and efforts for College work. However, the College would grind to a halt very quickly without the tireless work of the permanent staff. I am particularly grateful to Penny Jagger, my personal assistant, and to Kathy Evans, our Chief Executive.
So, on to 2010. I expect the main theme of the near future will be money. Whichever party wins the election, the country is short of funds, and that will hit the NHS. The question will be how to cut costs without reducing quality, and that will not be easy.