Annual Report 2017

Executive Chair’s Report to the Annual General Meeting

 5th July 2017

Annual General Meeting

Prof Sir Robert Lechler (Henry Cohen Visiting Professor, 2016) addressed the Annual General Meeting on the theme of “Sustaining Excellence in Biomedical and Health Research”. A vote of thanks was proposed by Prof Anthony Warrens.

BRCA screening and the Jewish community

There has been much public debate about the role of the BRCA genes in breast cancer, about screening, and about how the Jewish community should respond. To explore these issues a panel discussion was held on this theme. The keynote speaker was Prof Ros Eeles (Insitute of Cancer Research / Royal Marsden Hospital), who is an international authority on oncogenetics. This was followed by a panel discussion introduced by Dr Ian Ellis, in which Dr Mary Burgess, Dr Michelle Ferris, Dr Jo Franks and Dr Ranjit Manchanda took part. A full meeting report will be published on the website shortly.

Presidential Address

The London Presidential Address was delivered by Miss Jo Franks and was entitled “Evolution if not revolution in breast cancer management”. She described her experience, seeing both symptomatic and breast screened patients, and those who come via family history clinics and are high risk. She described the developments in breast conservation surgery using oncoplastic techniques, and illustrated how immediate reconstruction can be done where mastectomy is necessary.

Israeli Workshop: Medical Professionalism in the Practice of Medicine

The Association was asked to suggest British participants for the Israel National Institute for Health Policy Research (NIHPR), Dead Sea Workshop, organised by Prof Ora Paltiel on this topic. Prof. Pali Hungin, President of the British Medical Association, and former Dean of Medicine at Durham University was invited to attend by the organisers. He delivered what was described as “a thought provoking session regarding the current crisis faced by the profession, due in part to changing demands and expectations of the public, on the one hand, and the relative conservatism of the profession on the other. He delineated the symptoms of this crisis, including attrition / dropout, burnout and even decreased enrolment in UK medical schools, and suggested some of their causes – including loss of status, time pressure and loss of clinical autonomy. He warned that Medicine as an esteemed profession is threatened because of changes both in societal expectations and rapid technological transformation”. Despite genuine cause for concern, he predicted that as the use of digital technologies to their full potential, and as expertise is refined, medicine will evolve. The paradigm will shift and he foresaw enhanced professionalism, increased professional satisfaction, and improved patient outcomes in the long term. Prof David Katz also spoke at the workshop on the theme of “Professional Regulation”.

Visiting Israeli Colorectal Surgeons

The annual visit by a group of Israeli colorectal surgeons, organised by Prof Alex Deutsch, and supported by the Israel and British Commonwealth Association – John Furman Fund, and the David Yanir Foundation for the Advancement of Colorectal Surgery in Israel, took place in March. The group was led by Dr Reuven Weil (Group leader; Rabin Hospital, Petah Tikva). Participants were Dr Alexander Barenboim (Sourasky Medical Centre, Tel Aviv), Dr Yonatan Demma (Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem); Dr Ofer Eldar (Hasharon Medical Centre, Petach Tikva); Dr Dmitry Fadeev (Shaarei Zedek Hospital, Jerusalem); Dr Bassel Haj (Bnai-Zion Medical Centre, Haifa); Dr Aviel Meoded (Poria Medical Centre, Poria); Dr Benjamin Raskin (Sheba Medical Centre, Ramat Gan) and Dr Gal Westrich (Sheba Medical Centre, Ramat Gan).

A reception was held for the group at University College London, and this was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Prof Irving Taylor. The topic was Crohn’s Disease and speakers included two junior doctors from the Association (Drs Adam Levine and Sara Renshaw), Prof Stuart Bloom, (who heads the UK inflammatory bowel disease group) and Dr Alex Barenboim from Ichilov-Sourasky Medical Centre in Tel Aviv. During their visit the surgeons were hosted at Kings College Hospital, St Thomas’s Hospital and University College London Hospital, and attended the international Basingstoke M25 Colorectal Surgeons course.

Medical Students

Seventeen elective bursaries have been awarded to medical students. Five went to Israel, and twelve (including four in health inequality settings) – all active in their local Jewish medical student group – went to other locations (see Appendix 1). The medical student groups have been active in London, Birmingham, Leeds, North – West area, and Nottingham. In London after the initial “meet and greet”, a Friday night dinner was held with talks from Dr Abigail Swerdlow, Prof Laurence Lovat, and Mr David Gilbert.

Two Israeli medical students, Amos Beck and Inbal Gotfrid, 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 and festival observance and has responded to several queries about scheduling in this regard. In 2017 representations were made about examination scheduling over Shavuot, and alternative arrangements were made for the affected students.

Annual Dinner

The Annual Dinner took place in April 2017 with Lord Turnberg as guest speaker. He outlined the main features of his recent studies about the Balfour Declaration, which were due to be published shortly. A vote of thanks was proposed by Dr Michael Fertleman.

Immunisation – a Jewish question? Problems and Solutions.

Prompted by concerned paediatricians, the Association organised a panel discussion meeting on 8th May 2017. Dr Tammy Rothenberg provided the key background public health information, Dr Joseph Spitzer summarised some of the difficulties that arise within the community, Dr Jonathan Cohen highlighted complications and Ms Laura Sharpe (from the GP Confederation) outlined the steps being taken to remediate the problem. A visiting physician, Dr Rilwan Raji (who trained at the Hebrew University School of Public Health, sponsored by the Pears Foundation) commented on the similarities with what he faces in promoting immunisation in Northern Nigeria. Summarising the meeting Dr Fiona Sim noted that failure of immunisation is a health inequalities issue which needs social solidarity to resolve. A full report can be accessed from the Association website.

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.

There has been continued public debate about brit milah. Court proceedings about parental consent for neonatal male circumcision have arisen this year involving the Muslim community – notably, within the Jewish community consent is a requirement. Several Association members have advised the Initiation Society about how to formulate their new guidelines for brit milah ,that are consistent with modern medical practice. All neonatal male circumcision under Jewish community auspices (including both the Initiation Society and the Association of Reform and Liberal Mohelim) will be addressed in the Care Quality Commission guidelines that are due to appear shortly. Issues surrounding coroner services and death certification, medical examiners, and the development of minimal invasive autopsy services remain of concern, and a meeting with the new Chief Coroner has been arranged to discuss these. The Law Commission has published new proposals how to resolve interpretation of Deprivation of Liberty under the Mental Capacity Act, which has recently had adverse impact on Jewish families and their practices. Association members have also been provided to take part in discussions about neonatal intensive care, about genetic screening, and new approaches to gene editing.

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”. This has included advice to medical students as to how to address problems in this area which arise on campus, both in academic and in extra-curricular settings.

Henry Cohen Visiting Professor

Prof Kumar visited Israel in June 2017.

This visit was arranged together with the British Friends of the Hebrew University.

On her arrival Prof Kumar attended the Hebrew University Board of Governors reception on Mount Scopus where she met with the outgoing Dean of the Medical School, Prof David Lichtstein.  Her first formal visit was to Prof Jonathan Halevy at Shaarei Zedek Hospital where she heard about Israeli medical services and the “basket of services”, and about health care delivery in Jerusalem. On the Ein Kerem Hebrew University – Hadassah campus, she met first with Profs Orly Manor, Yehuda Neumark and Ora Paltiel from the Braun School of Public Health, who introduced her to some of the international students. She then met with the vice-Dean, Prof Joel Israeli, together with Prof Arie Ben Yehuda and Prof Shlomo Sasson.

The UK Ambassador’s Residence was the venue for a remarkable lunch attended by the leading women in Israeli medicine, including the President of Ben Gurion University (Prof Rivka Carmi), the newly elected Dean of the Hebrew University Medical Faculty (Prof Dina Ben Yehuda), and the Israeli Medical Association Chief Legal Officer (Adv Malke Borow). Further details about this event can be accessed here.

Later she met with Dr Tzaki Ziv-Nir (Sheba Medical Centre) who is about to head the National Rehabilitation Services at the Ministry of Health, and with Prof Shmuel Reis (Hebrew University), who heads the Israeli Medical Education Society, and leads on education about the impact of the Holocaust on medicine.

At the Technion – Rapaport School she met with the new Dean (Prof Shimon Marom) and was taken to visit the Rambam Gastroenterology Department by Dr Matti Waterman. After visiting Western Galilee Hospital (part of the Bar Ilan University Medical School in the Galilee), where she was welcomed by the Director, Dr Massad Barhoum, she met with Dr Mary Rudolf  (from Paediatrics at that Medical School) together with Dr Lilech Maletskey, and then had dinner with UK medical graduates working in Israel.

On her final day she visited Ben Gurion University, meeting with Prof Alan Jotkowitz, Dr Anat Rosenthal, Prof Eli Lewis, Dr Nihaya Dauod and Prof Alex Fisch. She heard about the International School, Ben Gurion work in Africa, initiatives looking at the status of women in Israel, and new developments in Immunology and Gastroenterology.

Prof Kumar was also able to tour Jerusalem, visit Bethlehem and see the exhibitions at Lochamei Hagetaot on Medicine in the Holocaust and on Jews of Holland.


The Association has reviewed communication with members during the past year and as an outcome has introduced a bimonthly newsletter. The aim of this is to provide easier access to material about meetings and to disseminate information following them, and reports from student elective scholarships, which have not been as readily available in the past.

(Prof) David R Katz
Executive Chair
June 2017





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