25 February 2022

Dear Fellows and Members,

We have waited nearly two years for the moment when COVID-19 restrictions could be lifted. For some I am sure there is a sense of euphoria and a need to reset the work and social agenda to a pre-pandemic metric. For most I suspect the feeling is relief, a sense of two years during which so much has been lost and a degree of uncertainty about the future. Yet, there is much to celebrate.

The recent Millin Meeting was a resounding success as RCSI reopened its doors. I was delighted to confer Ms Amina J Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group with an Honorary Fellowship. Ms Mohammad delivered an outstanding Carmichael Lecture – Transforming Education to Transform the World by 2030 – in which she argued that education, long recognised as a driver of social and economic prosperity, gives hope, a most precious commodity as we emerge from a pandemic that has brought the fragility of modern society into focus and highlighted the extreme inequalities in our world. You can watch the lecture here – I promise it is not a lecture you will forget.

The meeting opened with the Faculty of Surgical Trainers’ Programme in which the successes and challenges of the new intercollegiate curriculum in surgery were discussed. The Carmichael Lecture was followed by a symposium on recommendations from RCSI Council’s short-life working group on non-training scheme doctors followed by a session on careers in global surgery. The proceedings can be viewed here.

Professor Joseph Butler delivered an outstanding 44th Millin Lecture on the evolution of spine surgery that covered his translational research from cellular biology to image guided robotic assisted surgery. The lecture is an exemplar of the best of Irish surgical training and translational research.

The Irish Surgical Trainee Group meeting on 5 February featured a debate entitled 'SlainteCare will negatively impact surgical training and trainees'. The audience was evenly divided in its opinion and was not persuaded to change, even given the strong performance by Mr Gerry McEntee who proposed the motion. The debate was followed by a session on how surgical training can learn from high performance professions and featured Mr Cathal Berry TD and former Army Ranger, Captain Karl O’Neill, Chief Instructor Aer Lingus and Ms Cath Mac Donald, hostage negotiator with Police Scotland. If you missed any of the meeting, you can watch it back here.

The Bosco O’Mahony lecture, ‘Finding your Tribe’, was delivered by Professor Deborah McNamara, who reflected on Irish surgery at a crossroads, quality improvement and the challenges delivering the generality of surgical services needed by society, while ensuring the highest levels of specialty and sub-specialty expertise, are available when needed. As always, Professor McNamara gave a thoughtful and measured presentation.

Under the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Charter Amendment Act 2003, the next election of RCSI Council will be held on Tuesday, 7 June 2022 at 2pm. Under the banner of 'Your College – Your Council', I invite all Fellows and Members to exercise their vote in the election. Current Vice-President, Professor Laura Viani, is Council’s nominee to succeed me as RCSI President. Council has selected Professor Deborah McNamara as it’s nominee for Vice-President. It is important that the new Council is representative of the broadest demographic of RCSI Fellows and Members. I urge all Fellows interested in the future leadership of RCSI to consider putting themselves forward for election.

Details concerning dates and the voting process are outlined below. Only Fellows and Members in good standing with the College can participate in this important process and so I would encourage you to take a few moments to understand these requirements.

Building on the success of the Millin Meeting, planning of there scheduled Charter Meeting 20-22 April is at an advanced stage. Events on 20 and 21 April will be virtual while the meeting on 22 April will be live and will include the 97th Abraham Colles Lecture, 'Examining the root causes of surgical complications through the lens of the microbiome', to be delivered by Dr John C. Alverdy from Chicago. The evening will conclude with Honorary Fellowship conferring and the formal Charter Day dinner.

There is so much to look forward to!

Professor P. Ronan O'Connell
President, RCSI