Annual Report 2016

Executive Chair’s Report to the Annual General Meeting 

 4th July 2016

Annual General Meeting

Prof Terence Stephenson (Henry Cohen Visiting Professor, 2015) addressed the Annual General Meeting on the theme of “The General Medical Council as a Patient Safety Organisation”. A vote of thanks was proposed by Prof Lewis Spitz.

 European Jewish Medical Forum

A meeting was organized in late August 2015 to bring together doctors from several European countries and Israel. Dr Zeev Feldman from the Israeli Medical Association, gave an opening address and spoke about concerns about the delegitimisation of Israel in European medicine. There were four talks which addressed current medical issues that are topical and important to the Jewish community in the UK, and are also relevant to Jewish doctors from other parts of Europe, and from Israel. Prof Tim Cox spoke about Tay-Sachs Disease and Gaucher’s Disease; Dr Adam Levine spoke about genetics of Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Dr Ranjit Manchanda about screening for BRCA genes, and Prof Ian Roberts about post mortem imaging as an alternative to medico-legal autopsy. There were two talks which focused on the controversies about Israel and Israeli medicine that have emerged in Europe over the past few years. Adv Leah Wapner outlined the Israeli Medical Association’s role in International Medicine; and Prof David Stone addressed the subject: Has Israel damaged Palestinian health?  Two speakers focussed on the medical challenges that doctors in Israel have had to meet in recent years: Dr Tzaki Siev-Nir about transferring from a Civilian Rehabilitation Department to a department which handles war injuries and Prof Anthony Luder spoke about the treatment of patients from Syria. Two panel discussions were chaired by Dr Lawrence Buckman on the themes of the current status of Brit Milah in Europe, and combatting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic prejudice in medicine. Throughout the Forum there was considerable discussion about how to take forward some of the important topics raised; about how better to educate and inform Jewish physicians; and about how to encourage them to participate in joint initiatives of mutual interest.

Presidential Address

 The London Presidential Address was delivered by Dr Adrian Tookman and was entitled “Living and Dying in ‘uncertain times’”. He described his pioneering work in the field of palliative care, and how this had developed to encompass not only supportive care but also new ideas about the pharmacology and neuroscience of pain, and about patient perceptions and choice.

End of Life Issues – Jewish and Israeli Perceptions and Perspectives

 Rabbi Prof Avraham Steinberg, who is known for his work on the “Steimberg law” about end of life and organ donation in Israel, addressed meetings in London and Manchester on this topic.

 Visiting Israeli Colorectal Surgeons

Ten Israeli Colorectal Surgeons visited London as part of the annual programme organised by Prof Alex Deutsch and supported by the Israel and British Commonwealth Association John Firman Fund. The group was led by Dr Reuven Weil (Group leader; Rabin Hospital, Petah Tikva); and included Dr Ronen Ghinea (Meir Hospital, Kfar Saba); Dr Haim Gilstein (Rambam Hospital, Haifa ); Dr Nikolai Gurevich (Rabin Hospital,  Petah Tikva); Dr Aner Keinan (Shaarei Zedek Hospital, Jerusalem); Dr Anton Kvasha (Western Galilee Hospital, Nahariya); Dr Ahmad Mahamid (Hillel Yaffe, Hadera); Dr Husam Menzal (Haemek Hospital, Afula), Dr Forat Swaid (Bnai Zion Hospital, Haifa), and Dr Itay Zoarets (Sheba Hospital, Ramat Gan). A reception was held in honour of the visitors, followed by a discussion meeting on the topic of “Colorectal Emergencies – Illustrative Clinical Cases from the UK and Israel”, introduced by Mr Richard Cohen. Presentations were delivered by Dr Laura Gould and Dr Christopher Liao (from University College London Hospital), and by Dr Nikolai Gurevich and Dr Tzvi Zoarets. During their visit the surgeons were hosted at Kings College Hospital, St Thomas’s Hospital and University College London Hospital, visited the Houses of Parliament (hosted by Lord Pollak) and attended the international Basingstoke M25 Colorectal Surgeons course.

Medical Students

Eighteen elective bursaries have been awarded to medical students. Nine went to Israel, and nine – all active in their local Jewish medical student group – went to other locations. The medical student groups have been active in London and Birmingham, Leeds, and Nottingham. In Nottingham meals were organised on festivals for those who were unable to go home because of placements, and social fund raising events were held for children’s charities. In Birmingham after the initial “meet and greet”, the chaplain Rabbi Fishel Cohen hosted a Channukah party and a Friday night dinner for local Jewish doctors as well as medical students. There have been regular events under the ‘Mingle Mondays’ initiative including (bowling and a pub quiz) and Prof Michael Weingarten (from Bar Ilan Medical School, on sabbatical at Oxford University, gave an ethics session on treating a jihadist hunger striker in Israel. Multidisciplinary involvement was considerable at these events, including students from biomedical scientists and other healthcare professionals. In London after the initial “meet and greet”, a Friday night dinner was held with talks from Dr Guy Stern, Prof Katz, Lord Winston and Dr Schreiber. Prof Eli Lewis (Ben-Gurion University) spoke to the group about the use of alpha 1-antitrypsin in treatment of diabetes. Two Israeli medical students from the Bar-Ilan University Medical School did electives at Imperial College Medical School, and accommodation was again kindly provided by Prof Liz Lightstone. The Association communicates with all UK medical schools about Jewish Sabbath observance and festivals, and has responded to queries about scheduling in this regard.

Advisory and Educational Role

Association members have continued to provide expert advice to the Board of Deputies and other Jewish organisations about professional issues during the year. Issues of concern have been the continued public debate about brit milah; issues surrounding coroner services and death certification; development of minimal invasive autopsy services. Again court rulings – about parental consent for neonatal male circumcision for religious reasons, and about the interpretation of deprivation of liberty under the Mental Capacity Act – have had impact on Jewish families and their practices. Several members of the Association have advised the Initiation Society about how to formulate guidelines for brit milah that are consistent with modern medical practice. Association members have continued to play their part in responding to adverse anti – Israel comment relating to “medical issues”, falling within the remit of “supporting the UK’s Jewish medical professionals and informing on Jewish and Israeli medical approaches and achievements”.

Annual Dinner

The Annual Dinner took place in April 2016 with Lord Finkelstein as guest speaker. He told a large gathering about his perspective on the relationship between his roles in politics and journalism. A vote of thanks was proposed by Prof Simon Woldman.

BIRAX – Contributions by Physician – Scientists to Israeli Biomedical Innovation 

The Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership – known as BIRAX – is an initiative of the British Council and British Embassy in Israel, in collaboration with several funding bodies in the UK and in Israel. The third BIRAX conference took place in Oxford in April 2016 and the Association hosted three of the Israeli physician scientists who attended that meeting to talk about their contribution not only to Israeli biomedical innovation but also to strengthening the medical links between the two countries. Prof Tamir Ben Hur (Professor of Neurology, Hadassah – Hebrew University Medical Centre), spoke about how stem cells can interact with the nervous system in normal and pathologic states; Prof Jonathan Leor (Tel Aviv University – Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Centre, Tel Hashomer) spoke about studies on scaffolds used to support cardiac muscle regeneration, and Prof Eli Lewis  (Ben Gurion University Faculty of Health Sciences) spoke about the use of alpha 1 antitrypsin in type 1 diabetes. 

Thomas Hodgkin

Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866), the distinguished 18th century British Quaker physician from Guy’s Hospital, accompanied Sir Moses Montefiore on several of his travels, died during one of these journeys in Jaffa and was buried there. His grave had fallen into disrepair, and a group of Israeli physicians (led by Prof Yehudah Roth from Wolfson Hospital) took on the task of restoring it. The Association was asked to pass on this information in the UK, and messages were arranged to be delivered at the opening ceremony from the Quakers, and from Prof Byrne (Principal of Kings College London) and Prof Sir Robert Lechler (Vice-Principal, Health Sciences, King’s College London, and Medical School Dean).

Henry Cohen Visiting Professor

Prof Sir Robert Lechler (President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and visited Israel in June 2016, together his wife, Prof Giovanna Lombardi. This visit was arranged together with the British Friends of the Hebrew University. He met Dr Shoshana Revel – Vilk (Turnberg Fellow) and was hosted by Prof Nili Cohen (President of the Israeli Academy of Arts and Humanities). In Jerusalem on the Ein Kerem Hebrew University – Hadassah campus, the Dean, Prof Lichtstein, and vice-Dean, Prof Joel Israeli welcomed him and Profs Baniash (Immunology), Dor (Cancer Research), Chinitz and Paltiel (School of Public Health) discussed their work with him. At the library he was presented with a newly published book on Isaac Israeli, which had been edited by Prof Kenneth Collins, to which Prof Anthony Warrens has contributed. He met with Prof Halevy at Shaarei Zedek Hospital and heard about Israeli medical services. At the Weizmann Institute he met the President, Prof Zajfman, and discussed their work with Profs Yarden (Biological Cell Regulation) and Samuels (Molecular Cell Biology). At Ben Gurion University he met with the President, Prof Carmi, and then heard about the Medical School and its philosophy from Profs Glick and Henkin, while Prof Lombardi met with Prof Lewis (Immunology). At the Technion he met with the President, Peretz Lavie and was shown round the main campus. At Sheba Hospital Medical Centre (Tel Aviv University Medical School) he met the Dean (Prof Ehud Grossman) and was shown round the pathology laboratories, incorporating molecular pathology, by Prof Barschak. A reception in his honour was hosted by the British Ambassador at the Residency, at which senior members of Israeli Renal Medicine, Transplantation and Immunology communities, the Israeli Medical Association, and the Bar Ilan University Medical School in the Galilee were present.

(Prof) David R Katz

Executive Chair

 June 2016



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