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The main attraction of any conference or event is, of course, the academic programme of lectures, workshops and education. Hisham Mehanna, BACO 2020 Academic Chair, and Paul Nankivell, Academic Vice Chair, give us an overview of what to expected in Birmingham, and why a conference covering the entire specialty of otolaryngology has relevance for all, from students and trainees, to both general and sub-specialist colleagues.


As the new year begins, many of you may be reflecting on what the next 12 months will bring. For the BACO 2020 Academic Committee there is the realisation that July 2020, a date etched on our minds for some considerable time now, is only six months away. Welcoming the British Academic Conference in Otorhinolaryngology back to the heart of the country brings fond memories of successful past conferences in 2003 and 2006.

These conferences were such a success, in part because of the wonderful venue at the International Convention Centre in the very heart of our vibrant city, surrounded by canal side walks, attractive architecture, and more social venues within a stone’s throw than most can hope to tick off in three days. However, the real success will depend on having academic programmes of relevance and significance to the international otolaryngology community.


BACO 2018 Master’s welcome. 


We hope that BACO 2020 will continue this proud Midlands tradition of hosting excellent conferences. Perhaps the thing that has changed most since those earlier meetings - and is the hardest to reconcile when designing an academic programme of this scale - is how our specialty has changed over time. Otolaryngologists would traditionally have expected to have a clinical practice covering the majority of the specialty.

“We have crafted a programme that will provide both general updates on a broad range of topics, but also cutting-edge and cross-specialty themes”

A conference for this audience found relevance in being the place for most UK otolaryngologists to keep their practice current and up to date, across the whole gammut of the specialty. It is commonplace now for many of us to have a more specialised practice, attending subspecialty conferences and meetings to remain at the cutting-edge of the field. In addition, the growth in both quantity and quality of research within our specialty has increased the challenge of remaining adequately informed. Despite all this, I firmly believe there remains a pivotal role for broad-ranging conferences such as BACO 2020.

We have crafted a programme that will provide both general updates on a broad range of topics, but also cutting-edge and cross-specialty themes. This has been possible because of the quality and breadth of people that have contributed their ideas and energy to the development of the programme.



Academic programme

The programme, delivered over the three days of the conference, will consist of a variety of session types. Topics have been allocated to session formats that will best serve the exploration of their content. On the programme, you will see the following session types:

Keynote lectures:

These 45-minute sessions will comprise a lecture from a world leader in a particular field. Time will be available at the end for questions from the floor.

Controversies / Innovations / Important Topics / New Developments symposia:

These are 90-minute sessions with several talks by leaders in the field followed by either an expert discussion panel or a question and answer session from the floor.

Update sessions:

These sessions will be either 60 or 90 minutes long. The format will be multiple short talks aimed at updating the general ENT surgeon on managing common or important otolaryngological conditions using the most up-to-date evidence.

Difficult cases panel and round tables:

Hosted by a moderator, a panel of experts will discuss salient aspects of diagnosis and management of common and challenging cases.


Sessions around a controversial topic with speakers for and against a motion.

Lunch with the experts:

Ticketed (free of charge) sessions during which delegates will be provided with lunch. Two experts and a chair will discuss the management of an important or challenging condition or complications and their prevention or management.

Instructional courses:

These sessions will cover a specific surgical procedure, the management of difficult or challenging topics, and complications and their prevention or management in a more informal format.

Masters of surgery / Tips and tricks of surgery: These are 45-minute sessions with three or four video presentations or slides of surgical procedures around a discipline.

A key principle developed during the planning of the academic programme was to ensure invited national faculty are asked to deliver only one session across the three days. The aim of this is to broaden the range of speakers and, in particular, to offer less-established members of the specialty, along with allied health professionals, a platform. This aim was achieved with few problems, as there is no shortage of otolaryngology excellence in the UK.


BACO 2018: Professor Sir Michael Marmot.


Headline speakers

We will be welcoming some of the very best people in their field to Birmingham and BACO 2020. Around 20 different countries form the invited international faculty, with not only the US, Canada and Europe well-represented, but also South Africa, India, Australia, Russia, Egypt, Brazil and Nepal. We hope that this impressive breadth of international faculty will offer a truly global perspective of cutting-edge thinking and challenges that exist in our specialty. Each day will also see plenary lectures from people outside of ENT who have global impact. These distinguished speakers and past presidents of important societies will provide their thoughts on important and topical issues that affect us all as practising healthcare providers.

New areas of innovation

In collaboration with the anatomy department at Keele University, and led by Ajith George, BACO 2020 will showcase some truly innovative dissection sessions. There will be demonstrations of endoscopic ear surgery and auditory implants, transoral surgery and partial laryngeal procedures, emergency and advanced endoscopic sinus surgery and laryngotracheal reconstruction techniques.


BACO 2018: Phil Clamp teaching Otology 1 clinical skills station.


The Student and Foundation Doctors in Otolaryngology (SFO-UK) will be represented at BACO 2020 once again with Jay Doshi at the helm. This year they will have a strand running through an entire day, including presentation, poster and skills stations specifically aimed at students and foundation doctors, with the ever-decreasing emphasis on ENT in undergraduate curricula, showcasing our specialty remains pivotal. ENT also remains a core component of primary care interactions, and therefore we will be hosting a parallel education stream for primary care providers during the conference. This new age of connectivity will be embraced by drawing delegates into the debate and discussions through the provision of polling interactivity.

I hope when you visit the website to start planning your route through the conference sessions, you will be excited by what promises to be an exciting and varied programme. The emphasis at its core has been to highlight how we must embrace the latest innovations and evidence to improve ourselves and, therefore, the care we provide for our patients.

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Hisham Mehanna (Prof)

PhD, BMedSc (hons), MB ChB (hons), FRCS, FRCS (ORL-HNS), University of Birmingham, UK.

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Paul Nankivell

Institute of Head and Neck Studies and Education, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK; University Hospital Birmingham, UK.

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