State of the Art 2017 in Liverpool: “Surprise, Surprise”.

Peter Brindley Circle

Professor Peter Brindley looks back at this year’s meeting and concludes; “The Conference is Dead, Long Live the Conference".

To the seemingly endless list of unique wonderful things to have come out of Liverpool,2 we can assuredly add 2017’s Intensive Care Society State of the Art conference (SOA). In the sage words of local-girl-done-good Cilla Black: “Surprise surprise…the unexpected hits you between the eyes”. Regardless, I knew I was somewhere special when I asked for a hotel wake-up call and was told: “Certainly Sir, climate change is real”.3 I am delighted to report that the conference was similarly provocative, unexpected, and refreshing.

I was excited that SOA had ventured “up norf” and away from the crowds and conceits of “Suven Inglen”. I was also primed for a SOA that would justify its grand title, and dare to be different.  It was our joint responsibility– not just the titular speakers but also the audience, industry partners, and patron- to deliver State of the Art Science, State of the Art Safety, State of the Art Ethics, and State of the Art Well-Being: The “Fab Four” of Critical Care you might say. Well, you might say that if you, like me, were now shamelessly in love with all things Merseyside.


It was our joint responsibility to……deliver State of the Art Science, State of the Art Safety, State of the Art Ethics, and State of our Art Well-Being: The “Fab Four” of Critical Care you might say.


Intensive Care Medicine is clearly all about “balance”: whether we are discussing work-life balance, appropriate resuscitation wishes, and even what conference-style is most “fit for task”. Put another way, and as Oscar Wilde is credited with saying-: “everything in moderation; including moderation”. This caveat allows me to tip my (flat) cap to Tuesday’s magnificent party. While the photo booth picture should remain untweeted (!) (but you can find it at #icssoa2017-ed) I do remember that we ventured well into Wednesday am: a day henceforth known in the Critical Care World as Dr Laura Vincent’s Birthday.

I keep coming back to SOA (or #ICSSOA2017 for the twitterati) because it is one of the world’s best conferences, and especially because it has found the balance between ‘sizzle and steak’ and ‘fun and facts’. It also offers an especially magnificent springboard for its trainees. This includes posters, simulations, Pecha Kucha and the only-in-Britain magnificence of the Cauldron. My only negative was trying the local dish, scouse. This will remain an n=1 failed experiment. This Nottingham export remains unswerving in his devotion to pie and mash.


Six R’s of: Resuscitation, Robots, Resilience, Research, Recovery…and Royalty

In terms of scope, SOA covered the (Mersey) waterfront. Clearly, conference attendance will only grow if we engage non-traditional attendees. Again, I believe that SOA succeeded and, much like a day out in nearby Blackpool, provided for the whole ICS family. But wait, there’s more. This conference had a rare treat for this backwoods colonial: Her Royal Highness (HRH), Princess Anne. She is not only our beloved patron, but also someone who puts my attempts at preparation and presentation where they belong: in the shade.

The magnificent Professor Julian Bion and your bog-standard author were singled out to receive decanters from HRH. Julian, at least, had the good graces to earn his. I have always admired his rarified style, wit and perspicacity. I was asked by HRH what I would store in my decanter “Why Ma’am, Canadian Whisky of course”. She replied brilliantly: “Yes. I feared you might say that”. Final score: Windsor 1: Brindley 0; aggregate winner: the ICS.


Ladies and Gentlemen: the Beatles (and with apologies to Ed Sullivan)

I have used this blog before to say ‘thank you’, and so will use this one to say ‘congratulations’. A conference must serve many masters, and therefore runs the risk that it could serve none. In stark contrast, Ganesh, Gary, and Steve, and countless others delivered the best of British. It is also no surprise that Jim Lucas and Hampton Medical went directly from our conference to an award nomination. Like my boyhood Liverpool football team, you all banged it in the net.

Your Canadian cousins will deliver the 2021 World Congress from September 10th-16th (4). You have reminded us to ensure that it must be family-friendly and female-fair. In this regard, I especially want to commend Anna Bachelor, LJ Mottram and Laura Vincent as there are no finer exemplars. Finally I am thrilled that you have an incoming female Travelling Fellow who is deserving, rather than just extraordinarily lucky. Much like an erstwhile Beatles’ fan I can’t wait for your next release, and that, unlike that band, you are open to touring. With only 12 months to go, the London organizing committee ought to be “proper nervous, innit”.



Outgoing ICS Senior Travelling Fellow…and grateful beyond measure.

breaker only


1) “Surprise, Surprise”: a high water mark in 1980s TV; hosted by Liverpool’s Cilla Black.

2) Kist of people from Merseyside. Wikipedia. Available at:

3) This did not actually happen, but Liverpool is one of the few places where it could.

4) Scouse. A stew made from leftovers: typically lamb, swede and presumably sweaty socks.

5) 2021 World Congresson Intensive and Critical Care Medicine. Vancouver Sept 2021: see you there! Let us know what you want to hear.