Dear BSS Members and Friends,

We are looking forward to seeing you all later this year at the traditional biennial BSS Scientific Conference 2021. While we are delighted to observe the progress in controlling the pandemic and the roll out of the vaccination programme, we had hoped that national travel would allow us to deliver a face-to-face conference. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that we are still a long way from “normal”, as social distancing and other ways to control public health will remain in place for a while and may actually be rolled out again if we were to face another rise in COVID-19 infections in future. 
We were in advanced negotiations with a suitable venue in the heart of Manchester to deliver this year’s conference, but it has become clear to us that we would not be able to deliver a face-to-face conference to the level and quality that we would have aspired to achieve. Social distancing restrictions would have meant that we would need to hire a venue for about 600 delegates just to accommodate about 150, including the faculty of chairs and speakers. This would make a face-to-face delivery financially unfeasible and would have put the entire society at risk.

We therefore held an emergency Executive Committee meeting last Friday to discuss the 2021 Conference and in this meeting, the Committee voted unanimously to deliver the BSS Scientific Conference 2021 virtually. 

We are confident this will be an excellent event, with high quality sessions which you will all enjoy., We have already confirmed just under 60 chairs and speakers with an almost complete programme for a fantastic 3-day conference and we will now start to make arrangements with everyone to accommodate this on our advanced and convenient virtual platform with live-sessions in different streams. We will open the call for abstracts for poster presentation sessions soon, all accepted abstracts will be published in the open access supplement of the BMJ Open Respiratory Research. We have secured eight bursaries for young investigators to attend and we will again hand out the prestigious Colin Sullivan award for a research project. There will be enjoyable “fireside” chats with internationally renowned experts in the field and some of the conference will be made available on the BSS membership webpage on demand. Besides the BPSS stream, this year the BSDSM will also have a standalone symposium and keynote lecture. We have secured fantastic speakers from national and international centres, so watch this space as we will announce the conference programme shortly.

We very much look forward to welcoming you at this virtual conference. We will continue to monitor the restrictions around social distancing associated with the pandemic, as we hope that maybe there will be a chance to have more face-to-face interaction in 2022. Again, we regret that we have not had the chance to meet you in person in recent months, so it is even more important that you feed back and write to us if you want to see anything that the society has currently not been able to achieve, or we merely just did not think about. Please get engaged, put yourself forward to one of the available leadership positions, either for the educational committee or, later in the year, for the seats on the BSS executive committee. You can also join the subcommittees, the research, educational, paediatric and dental committees, including their chairs, would love to hear from you.

We look forward to working with you on the delivery of the virtual BSS Sleep 2021!

With kind regards,
Joerg Steier

BSS President
on behalf of the Executive Committee

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