End of year round-up
Chief Executive, Professor Gary Smerdon, gives a round up of 2022.
The year started with the unknowns brought by an abundance of covid but that deterred nobody in the pursuit of our charitable aims. The safeguards we put in place kept our staff, our patients and our clients and visitors safe. Everyone rose to the challenge and everyone without exception deserves congratulations and thanks. As we end the year our elective patient numbers have increased towards pre-covid levels and whilst diving injuries have been quite sporadic, that may be partly due to a positive response to the diver research and education DDRC is well known for. Maybe we can claim at least a little of the reduction in diving injuries as resulting from our efforts over the years?
The new build has given us new teaching facilities, the new lounge, the new ‘room for future expansion’ and the collaborative Brain Research and Imaging Centre (BRIC) which are all amazing assets to take the charity forward. February saw the delayed and muted (again due to covid) official opening of BRIC by the University of Plymouth Vice Chancellor Judith Petts and the UHPNT CEO Ann James.
It was not the celebration we had planned in our minds but the opening was well publicised. BRIC has been prominent in many of our developments this year as we begin to build on the reputational and research openings it provides. Amazing opportunities lie ahead for some world leading collaborative research over the coming years.
DDRC Professional Services had a particularly busy start to the year and is ending the year in a similar manner. We hosted three 4-week courses for our friends from the hyperbaric chamber in Abu Dhabi, a one-month Supervisor course for our Dubai Police friends, and a large group of Danah Divers arrived in the middle of the year from the Seychelles for courses and medicals.
These groups were in addition to the array of programmed courses throughout the year and an increasing number of bespoke courses commissioned by superyachts and overseas chamber installations.
2023 will be starting every bit as busy as 2022 is ending thanks to the skills and flexibility of not only the trainers but the entire DDRC team. That same flexibility is also a big part of DDRC Medical Services and our ability to deliver medicals to the offshore and maritime industries. Unfortunately, 2022 saw the closure of our independent wound care services but after years of trying to attract interest the door had to be closed.
On the research front 3 research studentships have been successfully completed in the year, with PhDs from University of Exeter Medical School, an MPhil at Plymouth Marjon University. We also have a second year PhD student with BRIC and a further student starting their PhD studies at the University of Plymouth with one or two more studentships in the pipeline.
Our doctors have been taking blood samples to better understand decompression illness, and a study on vestibular bends is running with Professor Jon Marsden in BRIC. Our Health of Divers surveys continued with a publication on diving and ear health available in this catalogue.
DDRC Research activities are fully aligned with our strategy and show our commitment, enthusiasm and expertise in the field. The new display of our 60+ publications in the main DDRC corridor is testimony to the research we have carried out.
Environmental awareness has always been a consideration at DDRC but this year the in house ‘Green Team’ have really made us all think. Moving to recyclable consumables and encouraging greener travel have been achieved along environmental improvements including re-chargeable equipment, LED lighting and an outside grassy areas seeded with meadow grass being left to grow and self-seed over the summer. From now every development will be undertaken with an eye on environmental issues.
In November our profile was again boosted by our hosting of the 2022 British Hyperbaric Association Annual Scientific Meeting at which we attracted an amazing array of presenters. We also held our Diving On The Edge (DOTE) which was really well received, especially by the local divers and hosted the Annual European Baromedical Association Directors Meeting and General Assembly.
Fundraising has been continued throughout and we are incredibly grateful to all our supporters. Kernow Dive Festival with their amazing annual fundraising cheque 2022
As usual we had a few joiners and leavers through the year. I’m sure the joiners, including nurses, junior doctors and chamber staff are being welcomed and inducted into team DDRC an d will enjoy their association with the charity whilst making a significant contribution to our achievements. We had a couple of leavers which is always sad on both sides but hopefully they leave with some great memories. The contribution they have made is always appreciated.
Well time certainly moves on and early next year we will be creating a full wall display in the new Lounge showing the highlights of DDRC history from its inception in 1980 right up to the present. It has certainly been an interesting journey from the boat sheds at Fort Bovisand to our current status as a world leading hyperbaric treatment and research centre. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this success.
Finally, Thank you to our patients, students and visitors who make our jobs so pleasurable, worthwhile and enriching. We all send wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year.