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  • Closing Address of BSLM Conference 2018

    by Mr Laurence Stewart

    So now it’s my job to summarise today’s meeting.

    Where do you start? This has truly been a hugely diverse multi-disciplinary event, which is exactly what the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine is all about.

    We have had Primal and Active play in which we have been willing and unwilling participants. We have had music as Lifestyle Medicine and musical performances including mass participation.

    We have had presentations from osteopaths, nutritionists and nurses; woodworkers, acupuncturists, economists and epidemiologists; GPs, Public Health clinicians, secondary care specialists and academics.

    And we have pushed the boundaries of technology to hear from the Godfather of Lifestyle Medicine, Prof Garry Egger, from the other side of our planet.

    We have also been privileged to be the venue for a launch of the Scottish Public Health Reforms and the launch of our BSLM #1Change campaign. That’s truly an enormous range of activity in one day!

    The Chinese philosopher Confucius is often given credit for the quote “may you live in interesting times” and there is no doubt that we certainly do. We live in a post-truth era where false news abounds, no more so than in medicine itself.

    Apart from the exceptionally rare glaring exceptions like Shipman and possibly these recent events at Gosport Hospital, I know no doctor or other health care professional who deliberately sets out to do harm. They all genuinely want to do good and minimize harm. And we have correctly come to believe that this must be based on firm evidence and not on simply anecdote or tradition.

    But these most laudable of intentions, have been used against us by bias and even fraudulent reporting in medical journals and guidelines, thereby leading good clinicians with good intentions, unintentionally, to do harm to their patients.

    But don’t just take my word for it:

    In 2009 Dr Marcia Angell editor or the NEJM for 20 years stated.

    “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”  Dr Marcia Angell

    And this is not in isolation.

    “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue”
    Richard Horton (former editor of the Lancet, 2015)

    “Something is rotten in the state of British medicine and has been so for a long time,”
    Richard Smith (former editor BMJ for 25 years, 2016)

    It is for these reasons that I believe Lifestyle Medicine has been gaining traction across the globe with the simple message that prevention is best, and most medical interventions are unnecessary if we focus on health; nutrition, exercise, sleep, reduced stress and minimal exposure to toxic hazards. In so doing we will, above all else, do no harm.

    Because as the late Stephen Hawkins has said:

    “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the Illusion of knowledge”

    For that’s exactly what’s has been happening in Medicine in the Western world for the last quarter of a century. We have been duped and misled into believing things that are simply not true; And it must stop!

    And I hope we can all play our role through organizations like the BSLM in stopping it.

    Finally I must thank some people.

    I would like to thank the Venue at Central Hall, to Zak and the team who have made all this technology work especially the Zoom links. I want to thank Trish and the ‘As You Like It’ catering team which catered for such a wide variety – from carnivore to vegan, and everything in between.

    I want to thank all the speakers. We appreciate just how much effort is involved in putting your talks together.

    Also our poster presenters and the exhibitors who have contributed to the day.

    I want to especially thank Robert Skey and the Scottish Government in recognizing that this was the ideal venue to launch the Scottish Public Health Reform and I know that BSLM will be more than happy to help them take this forward. Gavin Routledge for his mighty effort on behalf of BSLM in launching our campaign #1Change and the magnificent “Warblers” with their heartfelt and inspiring rendition of the campaign song. You know it takes a lot to sing when you have difficulty just breathing!

    And finally, I want to thank all of you for coming along and giving up your Friday afternoon and Saturday. I hope you have been well and truly inspired. If so, please go and tell others so we can grow this movement. And if not, please tell us so we can make things better for next year in Cardiff.

    And finally. None of this would have been possible without a small group of enthusiasts who beaver away behind the scenes So I must especially thank Joanna Hambridge who has performed much of the administration, Barbara Phipps who has coordinated the welcome packs and most of all Rob Lawson who has, as always, performed the lion’s share of the work pulling speakers together and organizing the contents of the meeting.

    So if you are going to the dinner I hope to see you there and if not have a safe journey home and remember to promote the BSLM campaign for #1Change.

    Mr Laurence Stewart
    Conference Chairman
    Edinburgh 2018

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