17 August 2023

Dear Fellows and Members,

As we reach the end of our summer in Ireland, I reflect on my first year as RCSI President and the progress we have made with your support and collaboration.

It is a real honour for me to represent our College in advocating on behalf of future surgeons; ensuring they benefit from a world-class training experience and are empowered to deliver the safest and most effective patient care.

In July 2023, RCSI welcomed 80 new Core Surgical Trainees (CSTs) following a competitive application process. I am encouraged and pleased with the high standards demonstrated by the successful CST candidates and look forward to supporting them as they pursue a career in surgery.

Over the past 12 months and beyond, together we have developed and implemented many important initiatives such as the new ‘CPD Hub’ education platform, which includes more than 100 courses.

We also launched a new eLogbook for NCHDs in non-training positions in Ireland, giving them access to the same electronic logbook as surgical trainees in core and higher surgical training programmes in order to meet their challenges in modern-day healthcare.

We have published new guidelines on best practices in adrenal surgery and established the nationwide Fracture Liaison Service (FLS), which will have a dramatic impact and reduce fracture rates in elderly patients.

Our Vice-President Professor Deborah McNamara launched the RCSI Surgery for Ireland report, and more recently we welcomed the announcement that sites have been selected for new Surgical Hubs, which will improve access to timely scheduled surgical care for patients.

In collaboration with our colleagues in the anaesthesia programme, the National Clinical Programmes for Surgery and Trauma and Orthopaedics launched a new e-learning module for the five stages of safe surgery, and the HSE – in collaboration with RCSI – has commenced the new National Perioperative Patient Pathway Enhancement Programme (NPPPEP), aimed at enabling a more efficient and effective use of HSE theatre and procedure room resources.

We continue to seek ways to reduce our hospitals’ carbon footprint, exploring the role of reusable and biodegradable technologies and looking at areas where conservative management might provide safer alternatives to routine surgery. Indeed, our Charter 2024 meeting will devote considerable time to sustainability in surgery with the theme of Surgery Responding to Global/Environmental Change chosen for Symposium 1 on the morning of Thursday, 8 February.

As we plan our activities for the autumn, I look forward to seeing many of you at the 48th annual Peter Freyer Symposium, where I will deliver a keynote address on Saturday, 2 September. Our Fellows and Members and Surgical Affairs teams will have a stand at the symposium so please make sure to drop by and say hello.

We will also visit the south-east of Ireland on Thursday, 5 October, as part of our Doing the Rounds Roadshow series and I look forward to listening to local concerns and to working to resolve them in collaboration with you.

Further afield, we will attend the annual ACS Clinical Congress in Boston, where we will host the North American Chapter of Fellows reception for Fellows, Members and Alumni of RCSI on Monday, 23 October. If you are attending the Congress please do come to our reception – you can register here.

Following that, we look forward to hosting the 46th Millin Meeting and Lecture on Friday, 10 November in Dublin, with an exciting programme including the RCSI National Surgical Research Support Centre Millin Research Symposium and a keynote lecture delivered by Professor Michael J McKirdy, President, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. You can view the full programme and register here.

As I end, it is with deep sadness that I share my own tribute to a wonderful colleague and friend, Professor Sean Tierney, who passed away peacefully after a long illness on Friday, 21 July. 

As RCSI President I have had the honour to work closely with Sean and received great counsel from him over the past 12 months and beyond. Sean was a very humble man but his contributions to RCSI and to international surgery over the years are immeasurable. I had the great privilege to be present when he was presented with his Honorary Fellowship of the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa by Professor Eric Borgstein, Registrar, COSECSA in July, shortly before he died. He was truly an inspirational leader and colleague, and we will all feel his loss profoundly. 

I send my deepest sympathy to Sean’s family and friends on their sad loss.

We were also deeply sorry to learn of the death of Mr Simon MacGowan, who was adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Department of Surgical Affairs. Simon was an Alumnus and Fellow of RCSI and graduated from medicine in 1983, going on to complete his training in Dublin, the US and Canada. In 1995 he was appointed Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, where he worked until his retirement in 2018.

We were privileged to have him return to RCSI to take up the role as Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Surgical Affairs, where he had the opportunity to impart his knowledge and wisdom of clinical practice to our NCHDs. He also was a valuable contributor to Fellows and Members events and recently shared his expertise with the community through webinar events. Our thoughts are with Simon’s family at this very sad time.

Finally, as I begin my second year as President, I want to thank my dedicated and committed fellow Council members, the Department of Surgical Affairs, and the Fellows and Members office for their support – and I am looking forward to continuing our work to innovate, lead and deliver on behalf of the surgical community.

Best wishes,

Professor Laura Viani
RCSI President