The Vascular Societies' Annual Scientific Meeting
21 May 2020
The Vascular Society Council has been considering the options for the November 2020 ASM very carefully. We have a venue booked in Brighton and there is an exciting programme that is almost complete. However, the spectre of Covid 19 continues to loom large.
The options we considered include: a) postponing b) cancelling c) arranging a virtual meeting d) continuing with current plans in the hope that meetings of the ASM size will be acceptable (with social distancing) by November.
We are very grateful for all those who submitted feedback via the survey last week. After initial discussions with our meeting partners from the SVN, SVT and BACPAR, we are going to gain more detailed opinions from those groups as well.
Decision making is difficult as this is a rapidly changing situation and we have to consider safety of our workforce as a priority. We also need to consider the reputational aspect of NHS workers taking study leave at what may still be a difficult time. Some options are probably unrealistic as we are not convinced simply postponing the meeting to early 2021 (when there may be other conference clashes) will be any more certain compared with the current date. Likewise, pressing on in the hope of a continued improvement in the Covid situation runs the risk that a second spike of cases in the Autumn could enforce a further lockdown with significant financial implications for a late cancellation and potential risk for those attending.
As we stand, we are committed to Manchester for November 2021 and there may be an option to postpone our current Brighton booking to November 2022. Not having any form of meeting does not sit well with us, and there is a lot of topical information that we think that you, as members, are hungry for and need, to practice safely in these challenging times. We are sure that it is important to come together, most likely virtually, to share experiences. We feel that there will be much to discuss by November, not least the impact the pandemic has had on vascular services and patients with increasing knowledge about thrombotic complications both venous and arterial.
On balance, we feel a live virtual meeting is the best option. The format is being explored, and include a meeting over 2 days, or 5 half day sessions due to the fatigue suffered sitting in front of screens. Whilst we accept that this will obviously not include all the traditional face-to-face networking opportunities and socialising normally enjoyed, we have to be realistic. Our partners, EBS have access to a very exciting web-based interactive platform and we are looking into that at the moment.
No firm decisions have yet been made, but we wanted all members to understand what is being considered. We aim to make a final decision within the next 8 weeks in order that planning can then proceed to ensure we end up with the very best conference experience we can get under the current circumstances.
||Chair of the Annual Scientific Committee