11 January 2024

Dear RCSI community,

As we begin the new year, I do hope that you and your family had an enjoyable holiday season, and that the months ahead bring you good health and happiness.

In the lead up to the festivities we had plenty of good cheer in RCSI. Early in the month, we welcomed 156 new surgical Fellows and Members at the December Conferring. Subsequently, on 14 December, I had the great pleasure of bestowing an Honorary Fellowship of RCSI on Professor Noel Williams, FRCSI. Professor Williams, who is Rhoads-Harrington Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, has served as the Medical Director of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery for Penn Medicine for over 20 years. His commitment to excellence, progress and nurturing the next generation of surgeons made him a most worthy recipient of this honour. Another fantastic achievement occurred on 19 December in Beaumont Hospital, as Ms Dilly Little, FRCSI, completed her thousandth renal transplant. I wish to add my congratulations to those of her colleagues and the wider RCSI community on this incredible milestone.

In December, it was also my great privilege to attend the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) Scientific Conference, which took place in Ethiopia. Highlights included a panel discussion between Presidents and representatives of Surgical Colleges in the UK, Ireland and Africa and an evening at Irish Ambassador Nicola Brennan's residence in Addis Ababa, discussing the transformative collaboration programme between RCSI and COSECSA.

Additionally, at the Conference, I announced the Sean Tierney Training Fellowship Grant. Named in honour of our late colleague and friend Professor Sean Tierney, the grant is supported by RCSI Department of Surgical Affairs. It is intended to promote the acquisition of additional surgical skills and knowledge that will contribute to the advancement of surgical science and practice in the East, Central and Southern African region. One grant will be awarded annually for a full-time Fellowship in a host institution within Africa and will provide €12,000 in funding toward a stipend, travel allowance, accommodation, COSECSA fees and other costs. It is a fitting tribute to Professor Tierney, who played a foundational role in the long-standing collaboration between COSECSA and RCSI. I am delighted that the grant reflects both Sean and RCSI’s commitment to supporting local training programmes in Africa.

Looking ahead, a new year always brings new opportunities including the chance for you to connect with our community of Fellows and Members.

In the coming months, there are a number of exciting events for Fellows and Members, which provide both learning and networking opportunities. By now, you will have received a ‘save the date’ for Charter Week 2024, which takes place from 6 to 9 February in RCSI. The theme is 'Rising to Challenges in a Changing World', and we have a fantastic programme planned. On Tuesday, 6 February we welcome the NOCA Conference, which will take place in the Desmond Auditorium in 26 York Street. On Thursday, 7 February, the Annual Health Service Quality Improvement and Innovations Conference will be followed by the ISTG meeting in the evening.

On Thursday, 8 February I look forward to welcoming Mr Michael Dowling, President and CEO of Northwell Health, USA, who will deliver the Johnson & Johnson Lecture and speak to the theme Leading Healthcare into Transformational Change. Your interest will also be piqued by the 99th Abraham Colles Lecture on Friday, 9 February, when Professor David Nott of Imperial College London will deliver a talk entitled Leaving a Legacy in War Zones. The full programme is available here.

Separately, hot on the heels of Charter, I know that those of you specialising in general, vascular, colorectal, breast/endocrine, orthopaedic, ENT, and plastic surgery will be interested in attending the annual Sylvester O’Halloran Perioperative Symposium, which takes place in University Hospital Limerick from 29 February to 2 March. For those who cannot attend in person, there is also a virtual programme, and you can learn more here. I am looking forward to seeing you there.

Apart from events, there are a number of other developments on the horizon for Fellows and Members in 2024. I am pleased to advise that a new Fellows and Members Portal will be launched in the coming months. The Portal will provide our community with easy access to a range of benefits, including online journals, resources and exam supports along with information on opportunities to become involved with the College. As you know, I am passionate about climate sustainability, and therefore I am particularly pleased that the new Portal will provide the opportunity for Fellows and Members to opt for online access to Surgeon’s Scope and The Surgeon, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of our membership benefits.

Finally, the first months of a new year can often present challenges to the healthcare system both in Ireland and internationally, often impacting adversely on patient outcomes and the morale, welfare and wellbeing of healthcare professionals. During this busy period, it is important for our community to support each other, and I urge you to take care of yourself, your colleagues and your patients. On your behalf, the College will continue to advocate for the measures we believe will help to limit the impact of these seasonal challenges on scheduled surgical care.

However, let us remember that the days will start to lengthen soon, and we have the spring to look forward to. On that positive note, I look forward to meeting with and hearing from many of you in the weeks and months ahead.

With best wishes for 2024,

Professor Laura Viani

RCSI President