Over 2,000 delegates and 120 international speakers from five continents join virtual RCSI Charter Week

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This week, over 2,000 surgeons from across the world joined RCSI for a virtual meeting marking the annual celebration of the granting of Royal Charter to the College in 1784.

Under the theme ‘Charter Goes Global’, the virtual programme involved 120 speakers from five continents. Encompassing all disciplines of surgery and all Faculties of the College, the meetings addressed issues including training, research, technical innovation, service delivery, quality assurance, sepsis, global surgery and ethnic diversity.

Keynote lectures throughout the week featured presentations by His Excellency Dr Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan; Mr Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times columnist; Dr Vivian McAlister OC, Professor in the Department of Surgery at University Hospital, Canada; and Professor James Lau, Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In a virtual Honorary Fellowship Conferring, RCSI President Professor P. Ronan O’Connell awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the College to Professor Chung-Mau Lo, Hospital Chief Executive, The University of Hong Kong - Shenzhen Hospital; Chin Lan-Hong Professor and Chair of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, The University of Hong Kong; and Director of the Liver Transplant Center, Queen Mary Hospital. Mr David Costello, Consul General of Ireland to Hong Kong & Macau hosted a special event in Hong Kong marking the occasion.

Professor O’Connell said: “Like with so many events this past year, RCSI has been able to adapt to the pandemic and deliver century-long traditions in new and innovative ways.”

“This year marks RCSI’s first virtual Charter Day celebration. We have truly seen a convergence of leaders in healthcare from around the world for a programme addressing some of the major issues and advances in surgery. I would like to welcome all who spoke and participated in our many online sessions this week. I would also like to thank our industry sponsors who are supporting Charter Week 2021.”

On Tuesday, 2 February, Dr Grace O’Flanagan, Ireland Women's field hockey international and surgeon practicing in the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, and Ms Danielle Mah, former Head Physiotherapist and Medical Manager with Rugby Canada, joined Ms Máire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh, Newstalk Sports Broadcaster and current RCSI medical student, for a conversation about what healthcare professionals can learn from the experiences of those in high performance sporting environments.

The annual conference of the National Clinical Programme in Surgery (NCPS) was held on Wednesday, 3 February. This year’s NCPS conference focused on models for scheduled care delivery, with presentations on Sláintecare from Mr Kenneth Mealy, immediate past-President of RCSI and NCPS Joint Clinical Lead and Ms Laura Magahy, Executive Director, Sláintecare. The conference also heard from Dr Kim Russon, President of the British Association of Day Surgery, on the UK experience of day surgery and from Professor Tim Briggs CBE, National Director of Clinical Improvement for the NHS, on “Getting It Right First Time”.

On Thursday, 4 February, the annual Millin Meeting saw presentations on innovation in simulation from the newly appointed RCSI Chair of Simulation Education and Research, Professor Walter Eppich, and on tissue engineering from Professor Fergal O’Brien, Director of Research at RCSI.

With the theme of Global Perspectives, His Excellency Dr Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan spoke on challenges in the delivery of surgical services and surgical education in Bhutan.

The 28th Carmichael Lecture was delivered by Mr Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times columnist, on the topic of “Public Health and Public Wealth”, and this year’s Millin Lecture, entitled “Electrodes to Robots – Evidenced based change in Surgical Practice”, was delivered by Mr Colin Peirce, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, University Hospital Limerick.

On Friday, 5 February, RCSI celebrated Charter Day with a programme addressing issues including sepsis, ethnic diversity in surgery and models for the delivery of scheduled surgical care.

Professor Simon Finfer AO, The George Institute for Global Health, University of New South Wales gave an update on the global burden of sepsis. Professor Fidelma Fitzpatrick, Senior Lecturer RCSI and Chair of the HSE National Sepsis Governance Committee, addressed the issues around sepsis and antimicrobial resistance.

An Irish perspective on ethnic diversity was discussed with contributions from Professor Frank Murray on the medical workforce in Ireland and Medical Council President Dr Rita Doyle.

The annual Johnson & Johnson Lecture was delivered by Dr Vivian McAlister OC, Professor in the Department of Surgery at University Hospital, Canada. The 96th Abraham Colles Lecture was delivered by Professor James Lau, Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, on “The Demise of Emergency Ulcer Surgery”.

On Saturday, February 6, the week will conclude with the Irish Surgical Training Group (ISTG) Meeting. ISTG is an independent entity run by surgical trainees. In addition to organising and running specific events, ISTG represents trainees from all subspecialties and levels of surgical training at a variety of committees influencing training. The Bosco O’Mahony Lecture, “The Changing Face of Surgical Training”, will be delivered by Professor Peter Gillen, Associate Professor of Surgery at RCSI.