A message from the President of RCSI

17 November 2022

Dear Fellows and Members,

When I began my term as President in June, I identified the theme of ‘Shaping the Future’ as my central priority. As I mentioned last month, this will be the theme of Charter Week 2023 which will run from 28 January to 3 February.

I look forward to welcoming many of you to Dublin to where we have planned a busy and varied line-up including symposia on the 'Future of Surgery, and Technology for Surgeons and the Patient', the 30th Carmichael Lecture, the 98th Abraham Colles Lecture and the 45th Millin Lecture.

Last month saw our colleague Professor Oscar Traynor, Professor of Postgraduate Surgical Education, inducted into the American College of Surgeons Academy of Master Surgeons. This honorary distinction recognises surgeon educators who have devoted their careers to surgical education and are considered leaders in their fields. Huge congratulations to Oscar on this achievement.

October was a busy month of planning and engagement for everyone, and brought me the opportunity to travel and meet more of our surgical community. During the term of my presidency I am committed to meeting with as many of our Fellows and Members as I can, so a few weeks ago I travelled to San Diego to attend the ACS Clinical Congress. There I hosted the RCSI North American Chapter of Fellows Reception, a wonderful social occasion and a chance to catch up with more than 50 RCSI Fellows and Members, from Ireland and around the world. I presented a beautiful bog oak sculpture to Dr Julie Fleishlag, President of the ACS, in celebration of the centenary of the original collaboration between the ACS and RCSI (1921-2021).

During the Congress, I was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of my contribution to surgery and my role in the establishment of the first cochlear implant centre in Ireland. This was a great honour and a highlight of my professional career.

Closer to home, we travelled to the RCSI Education facility in Waterford at the end of last month for what turned out to be a very productive ‘South East Roadshow’, an opportunity to listen and learn about the local concerns in the south-east of the country.

In attendance were 45 surgical Fellows and Members, trainees and NCHDs from University Hospital Waterford, Wexford General Hospital, South Tipperary General Hospital and St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny. We heard presentations from Professor Simon Cross, Mr Morgan McMonagle, and Professor Fiachra J. Cooke, and from regional representatives, Dr Osama Elfaedy (St Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny), Mr Ivan Ivanovski, (Wexford General Hospital) and Professor Peter Murchan (Tipperary University Hospital). There were robust conversations covering training, regional services, support for teaching, and limits on clinical capacity. I am looking forward to working in collaboration with our colleagues in the south-east to bring support in these areas.

October also saw the establishment of the nationwide Fracture Liaison Service (FLS), a system for assessing people over 50 years of age who sustain a low-trauma ‘fragility’ fracture, to diagnose osteoporosis and identify those most at risk of future falls and more serious fractures, such as those of the hip or spine. I believe the FLS could have a dramatic impact and reduce fracture rates in elderly patients.

The HSE has launched its National Policy and Procedure for Safe Surgery. This endorses the principle of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist (2008) and the HSE's Patient Safety Strategy (2019-2024) to ensure that all patients undergoing surgical procedures do so safely. The Policy applies to all patients undergoing surgery in the Irish hospital setting and to all healthcare staff involved in the surgical patient pathway.

This month the Global Surgery Foundation (GSF), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the RCSI Institute of Global Surgery (IGS) invite the global surgery community to participate in the new United Nations Global Surgery Learning Hub. As there is currently no single ‘go-to’ hub for global surgery training and education material for surgeons, anaesthesia providers, obstetricians and gynaecologists and perioperative nurses, this is a very worthwhile initiative. If you would like to learn more, please contact Eric O’Flynn, Programme Director (Education, Training and Advocacy), ICS.

Recently, surgical teams – including nurses and theatre staff – took part in RCSI's first-ever Robotic-Assisted Surgery (RAS) training programmes, run in collaboration with Intuitive at the National Surgical and Clinical Skills Centre of RCSI. There is evidence that certain procedures deliver better patient outcomes when the procedure is conducted using robotic platforms. This workshop marks the beginning of robotic surgical training at RCSI.

I hope to see some of you at our second Surgical Matters webinar of the year. The topic is 'Technology Shaping the Future of Surgery' and the webinar will be chaired by Professor Ronan Cahill on Wednesday, 16 November at 6pm.

I am grateful for the opportunity to meet so many of you in person, both here in Ireland and abroad. I would welcome your insights and perspectives as we continue to support the surgical community and consider the future.

With best wishes,

Professor Laura Viani
RCSI President