12 February 2021

Dear Fellows and Members,

I hope this newsletter finds you well, vaccinated and beginning to see improvements in bed and theatre capacity as the number of COVID-19 admissions has reduced. Access to ITU remains very difficult as many COVID-19 patients have prolonged admission. Disruption in scheduled care over the past six weeks has accentuated the already worrying delays in delivery of surgical care. Fellows and Members should take care that delay in scheduled care occasioned by HSE guidance or local circumstances (staff, bed or theatre availability) is clearly documented in every case. Complaints and litigation are inevitable and will be adjudicated at some future time when the exigencies of the pandemic are long forgotten.

It is however time to extenuate the positives. Last week the College celebrated the 237th anniversary of the Charter of King George III with a meeting over five days that combined the NOCA, NCPS, Millin, Charter and ISTG meetings into Charter Week. The plan was ambitious and the theme ‘Charter Goes Global’ even more so. In the end over 3,000 registered delegates from 58 countries attended some or all of the meeting that heard from 150 speakers from five continents.

The meeting logistics were managed by the RCSI Conference and Events team with support from Abbey Conference & Events using video conferencing and pre-recorded presentations. Highlights were the 28th Carmichael Lecture ‘Public Health, Public Wealth’ delivered by Mr Fintan O’Toole, the 43rd Millin Lecture ‘Electrodes to Robots – Evidence Based Change in Surgical Care’ delivered by Mr Colin Peirce, the J&J Lecture ‘Kandahar to Canada’ delivered by Professor Vivian McAlister OC, the 96th Abraham Colles Lecture ‘The Demise of Emergency Ulcer Surgery’ delivered by Professor James Lau and the Bosco O’Mahony Lecture ‘The Changing Face of Surgical Training’ delivered by Professor Peter Gillen.

Mr David Costello, Irish Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau graciously acted on behalf of the College to confer an Honorary Fellowship on Professor Chung-Mau Lo, CEO of the University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Hospital.

There were many other highlights of the Charter Meeting that Fellows and Members may care to revisit or catch up on if missed. One that will always remain with me was the extraordinary presentation by HE Dr Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan who told of his commitment to provide free access to modern endoscopic and laparoscopic treatments to the population of the remote Himalayan kingdom. For access to Charter content not linked above, Fellows and Members are invited to complete this request form, and the RCSI Conference and Events team will be happy to help.

My sincere thanks to all who supported the 2021 Charter Meeting. The challenge will be to deliver as good if not better celebration in 2022, when I sincerely hope we can meet in convocation.

Keep well,

Professor P. Ronan O'Connell
President, RCSI