Ben Burton makes first announcement as President

  • 26 May 2023
  • RCOphth Communications

Dear colleagues

I hope those of you who attended Congress enjoyed the exceptional programme of sessions, panel discussions, new surgical skills, the exhibition and good lunches! In this first fully face to face Congress post covid, it is a reminder of how hugely important it is for everyone’s well-being to catch up with colleagues and chat with RCOphth staff over a coffee and socialise too.

I hope everyone agrees it was a great success and thank you to everyone who gave up their time to speak or run sessions, as well as staff members who managed the event, ran the registration desks, published social media, interviewed delegates and manned the RCOphth stand. Everyone who contributed, made Congress a splendid event. I look forward to 2024 and welcoming even more delegates to Belfast.

This Congress was also the official hand over of the presidency to me from Bernie. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bernie for all his hard work and efforts as president over the last three years. He is undoubtedly one of the nicest, most polite people I have ever met and I have learned a lot from him.

Bernie’s continued efforts, working with the Executive leadership team, has led to an effective relationship with NHS England, as well as work in Scotland and Wales to influence policy and workforce decisions. We have developed in partnership with NHSE the cataract specification and we have held a first webinar for commissioners to expedite more effective commissioning and to ensure the needs of trainees are not forgotten in this. Going forward we need to work with NHSE and commissioners to generate solutions to problems that ensure safe, sustainable and efficient care for our patients.

Congress was also the final event for Kathy Evans, outgoing RCOphth Chief Executive. Kathy has served in this capacity for over 17 years and is leaving to enjoy a well-deserved retirement. We wish Kathy well and thank her for her guidance and leadership. We welcome Ali Rivett as the new Chief Executive, who joins us from the British Society of Rheumatology on the 5 June. Please see the announcement of Ali’s appointment.

I want to thank all our members, Council representatives, committee members, examiners, trainers, clinical leads, lay advisors, other eye care professionals working with us, on the amazing amount of work you do in a volunteering capacity. We need more members volunteering their time to pass on your experience, knowledge and support for the rewarding job roles on offer at the College. You will continue to be supported by our professional and hard-working staff, whose efforts and expertise ably support Council, Committees, the Executive, Trustee Board and the President’s office.

I will be contacting members on a regular basis to share my vision and areas of work in the President’s programme of priorities. This will include the development of the new RCOphth strategy lead by Ali and in consultation with members and staff over the next few months. I hope to get out and about to meet with as many of you as possible over the next 12 months or so too.

It’s definitely going to be a busy first few months, if not for the next three years. I want to assure you of my commitment to the role and encourage you to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions, to share solutions that positively impact patient care or wish to feedback on the work of the College.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who voted for me. Every crisis is an opportunity and with the current capacity and staffing issues in eye departments around the UK, what an opportunity this is.

Ben Burton
President, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists