Last week I went to part of a gastroenterology conference: the symposium for patients.

This was organised by the British Society of Gastroenterology. I’ve never been to one before, and this was a particularly interesting experience. There were – literally – hundreds of medics around the conference centre, and about 60 people attending the patients seminar. Not all these were coeliacs, though Coeliac UK were there: some were Crohn’s sufferers, and others had IBS. Some (like me) weren’t patients at all, but were there out of interest, or representing a patient. I sat next to a dietician who was there as part of her professional development, which I was delighted to see. She told me that she’d been astonished to learn how variable the dietician service-offering was across the country. Where she’d worked, they had offered three-monthly checkups initially, until people got the hang of the gluten free diet, but in some places – as we know – people are offered much less than that.

I took copious notes, which I’ll try and decipher for you over the next few days, on each of these four topics:

  • Food intolerance in daily life: what’s it due to and what can you do about it?
    • Speaker was: Prof D S Sanders from Sheffield
  • Food and mood: how what you eat can change the way you feel
    • Speaker was: Prof N Read from London
  • Diagnostic and therapeutic challenges: coeliac disease as a cause of IBS symptoms and new approaches to treatment
    • Speaker was: Prof R Anderson from Melbourne, Australia
  • Psychosocial aspects of coeliac disease: can coeliac disease affect quality of life?
    • Speaker was: Dr R Howard from Birmingham

There was also a lively Q&A session at the end – and here my notes got very rough, but I’ll see what I can do!

I know I haven’t told you what I learnt yet, but I can tell you this: if you get the chance to go to one of these, take it. There was plenty of opportunity to ask questions, and the spearkers were clear, entertaining and informative.