The meeting started with a short introductory talk on the history of Liverpool followed by a hot buffet and a Beatles tribute band The Blue Meanies; there were some members spotted dancing!
Thursday; Professor Gill (International Medicine) started the scientific meeting with a fascinating précis of the history of the city of Liverpool (meaning “muddy pool”) concentrating on the contribution of famous Liverpudlian doctors such as Dobson who demonstrated that diabetes was a systemic disease. William Duncan was a great public health doctor who was the first Medical Officer of Health (MOH) in England; he worked with a civil engineer and introduced modern sewerage there by greatly reducing the death toll from cholera. Hugh Thomas, the inventor of the “Thomas splint”, was another; Ronald Ross won the Noble Medical prize for discovering the means of transmission of malaria.
Yacine Vadel-Lamarche spoke on how to stop people jumping off a building. Apparently in Hong Kong jumping off tall buildings is not uncommon whereas it is less common in Europe and the USA. Nevertheless, there are about 2 falls per day in Paris. There are two ways to stop a “jumper”…one can “jump on the jumper” or talk. Talking can take 3-4 hours, empathy is vital (not sympathy) and it is important not to change the negotiator. A distance of 3m needs to be kept for safety. Absolute avoidance of judgmental phrases is necessary, as is making impossible promises. If successful the potential jumper must move towards the negotiator who must not grab the subject. On the other hand, if a decision is taken to “jump” the jumper that is OK, but the two resolution methods should not be mixed. A major problem is that the Sapeurs Pompiers themselves can suffer psycho-trauma and unfortunately can be reluctant to ask for help.
Bernadette Mennesson presented “Talking Medicine” and gave an eloquent summary of why English is useful for French doctors. Clearly the best way to learn another language is to be immersed, and, whilst all agree with the principles, who pays is usually the problem. Internet meetings one to one is being piloted with Manchester University Language School using Skype and giving 8 weekly sessions for students (French and English speakers) from Paris 12 and 5 with Manchester. Participants are encouraged to correct errors in their pair’s language. Analysis of the students’ aims and use of the system is allowing its development as and effective learning tool. A high intermediate level in English is required for French participants (and presumably French for English speakers). “Talking Medicine” has now gone world wide with 7000 registered users who are often non-native English speakers, in fact often teachers of English!
Danielle Treton’s talk entitled “Serendipity or, to be outwitted” was an entertaining dash through Freudian sexual theory and the French and English languages. Janet Hall highlighted the Liverpool Care Pathway and its use in the UK for the dying as well as outlining the controversial issues surrounding end of life care. “The quality of care of the dying is an indicator of the equality of care of the living”.
David Lipson and Colin Mumford briefed conference in their experiences with a medical English course in Paris South when Colin attended as both a native English speaker and an expert in neurology. An appeal was made by several members to take forward these initiatives and to encourage the green shoots of linguistic co-operation to grow.
Aishling Quiery spoke on her experiences in Niger where the French government is still active in local life, helping health development. There are 1800 maternal deaths per 100 000 births (8 in France and UK). Resources are poor but staff are enthusiastic and very hard working. The UN is funding a programme to help local women with vesico-vaginal fistulae.Mark Savage updated conference on new treatment for type 2 diabetes, concentrating on the newer GLP-1 and DPP-4 agents and touching on the soon to be launched SGLT2 inhibitors. Nouroitza Tourrissan spoke on a proposed vaccine against helicobacter pylori as this causes gastrointestinal bleeding as well as stomach cancer. A vaccine would be helpful due to increased antibiotic resistance , side effects of PPIs and, of course, costs. However, HP is good at hiding from the immune system so effective vaccine production is difficult.
JAMES TUDOR PRIZE
Again 5 excellent presentations from students competing for the James Tudor Prize. Competitors were: Sihame Benmira (Newcastle-u-Tyne, elective inMorocco, HIV); Emily Mason (Cambridge, elective in Madagascar talked on Typhoid Fever); Pamela Mazoyer (Newcastle-u-Tyne, La Réunion,type 1 diabetes); Tom Peachey (Warwick, Community Health Provision in Madagascar); and Anna Wilding (Manchester, Urgences à Clichy ). The winnerwas Anna Wilding and her prize was awarded by Rod Shaw from the James Tudor Foundation who joined us for the Gala Dinnner on Friday evening.
Michael Kelly (English clinical lead for colorectal cancer) addressed the colorectal cancer service in England and highlighted the many “challenges” that he and his colleagues face in developing the service with appropriate patients being seen by the appropriate clinician/investigator etc. Chris Turnbull updated us on the different images of Parkinson’s disease over the ages. Gareth Williams, after a wonderful meal at the Gala Dinner, reminded us all about the dangers of obesity across the world. Interestingly one eats more when in good company!
Carol Barton gave a résumé of Douglas Bader, who as a bi-lateral amputee fought in the battle of Britain and who had his surgery at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Flavia Leslie presented the final talk of the Liverpool conference on Bipolar Disorder. About 1% of the population have this condition but it often takes 10 years and 4 doctors to make the diagnosis. Newer agents are helpful but, like the older ones, there are problems, possibly including predisposition to type 2 diabetes; although there is evidence that psychiatric illness by itself is involved too.
Delegates enjoyed a flavour of the highlights of Liverpool in a comprehensive social programme. After being welcomed to Liverpool on the Wednesday night by a Beatles Tribute band, our tour guide, Elizabeth Newell, continued the programme on the Thursday, with a walking tour of Liverpool including a visit to the Cavern (where the Beatles first played) and Grade 1 listed St George’s Hall which is widely regarded as one of the finest neo classical buildings in the world. In the afternoon we enjoyed a trip to Speke Hall, a haunted National Trust 16th Century timber framed Tudor Mansion. On the Friday a coach tour to the Lady Lever Art Gallery, situated in the beautiful garden village of Port Sunlight, allowed delegates to enjoy a treasure trove of 18th and 19th century British paintings and furniture as well as a collection of Wedgwood and Chinese ceramics. In the afternoon, Liverpool’s two cathedrals were visited. The Metroplitan Cathedral with its crown like structure
and the Anglican Cathedral which took almost 100 year s to build and is the largest cathedral in the United Kingdom. On Friday evening Gareth Williams entertained delegates with a fascinating talk on smallpox and the work of Edward Jenner in eradicating this disease. The Friday night Gala dinner took place at the 19th century Liverpool Racquet Club, with a superb music finale from Gareth Williams and his band. Members were still dancing the night away when the coaches were scheduled to leave near midnight. On Saturday, after some goodbyes following lunch, remaining delegates enjoyed a trip to the Roman walled City of Chester with its celebrated medieval “rows.” The evening drew to an end at Bluecoat Chambers, the oldest building inLiverpool where, whilst enjoying a fantastic meal, Danielle Treton (piano) and Jean Gotlib (vocals) serenaded us with their classical musical renditions. To see photographs from the conference just email Youssef Girgis on Girgis7@aol.com and he will send you a link to see his extensive collection of photos.