30 October 2020

Dear Fellows and Members,

As expected, Ireland entered level 5 restrictions on 21 October, bringing a sense of weariness and unease as the clocks went back and the evenings darkened. Perhaps it is too early to be sure, but the COVID-19 numbers seem to have plateaued and the daily increases have begun to decrease. It was very reassuring to hear from the Irish Surgical Training Group (ISTG that numbers of scheduled procedures have recovered considerably, although the overall training experience in the year to July 2020 was approximately 20% less than the year to July 2019. The webinar held on Wednesday, 28 October was uplifting, demonstrating the commitment, resilience and enthusiasm of our surgical trainees. Catherine de Blacam spoke enthusiastically about her Aspire Clinical Fellowship in cleft surgery at Children's Health Ireland, confirming the opportunities for high-quality post-CCST fellowship that exist in Ireland. David Brinkman and his colleagues in ISTG deserve our thanks.

Last week’s webinar on Triage of Paediatric Emergencies, presented by the National Clinical Programme in Emergency Medicine, had the largest attendance of any of our 26 webinars to date. The session highlighted how paediatric emergencies and triage systems differ from adult medicine. To date, over 3,600 Fellows and Members have participated in the live webinars while a further 3,200 have viewed the recorded sessions. We are currently planning the schedule for 2021 and suggestions for topics to be covered or speakers are most welcome. Suggestions can be submitted by replying directly to this email.

Planning continues for a combined Millin and Charter Day meeting in February 2021. The virtual meeting will extend over five days, from Tuesday, 2 - Saturday, 6 February. It will include the annual National Office of Clinical Audit meeting on Tuesday, 2 February and the National Clinical Programmes in Surgery meeting on Wednesday, 4 February. The Annual Video Surgery meeting will focus on emergency surgery in parallel with the Intervarsity Clinical Cases Competition for the David Bouchier-Hayes Award, both to be held on the evening of Wednesday, 3 February.

The Millin Meeting on Thursday, 4 February 2021 will focus on training and research, starting with the inaugural Faculty of Surgical Trainers meeting followed by a symposium on networks for surgical research and culminating in the Millin Lecture to be delivered by Mr Colin Peirce, University Hospital Limerick. The Charter Day meeting on Friday, 5 February will have as its' themes sepsis, innovation, equality and diversity and will culminate in the 97th Abraham Colles Lecture, to be delivered by Professor James Lau, Chinese University of Hong Kong. The week will conclude on Saturday, 6 February with the ISTG meeting and the Bosco O’Mahoney Lecture. Given online access to the meeting, it is to be hoped that we will be able to facilitate the largest audience ever at a Charter Meeting, and participation by Fellows and Members from around the world who would not have had access in former years is warmly welcome. Information on the programme and registration details will be distributed in due course, and will also be available here.

The Institute of Global Surgery hosted an online symposium on Global Health Education, jointly with the College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland and the Forum of Irish Postgraduate Training Bodies, on Friday, 23 October 2020. The programme included contributions from Mr Colm Brophy TD, Minister of State for Overseas Development, Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director WHO, Dr David Weakliam, Global Health Strategic Working Group and Dr Colm Henry CCO, HSE. It also included a session led by presentations from COSECSA, CASECSA and a session from the Irish Global Health Network. There is so much happening of relevance to global health, including health here in Ireland, that I would recommend viewing the recorded sessions. My particular congratulations to Eric O’Flynn and Professor Mark Shrime and their colleagues.

The Intercollegiate FRCS exams start on Sunday with 15 candidates in general surgery sitting the exam remotely in RCSI. We wish them every success and hope that the arrangements for the examination will work smoothly. It is hoped to complete diets of the FRCS examination in all specialties over the following four weeks.

Intake for Core and Specialty training is now open and will close at 5pm on Thursday, 19 November 2020. Interest this year seems to be higher than previous years, with 110 candidates having already initiated their application for Core training. For those in training, the upcoming CAPA sessions will be in a virtual format. 120 Core trainees will complete their session on 21 January while 91 emergency medicine trainees will complete theirs between 25 November and 14 December.

As Fellows and Members will be aware, RCSI Boards and Committees gain valuable insights and experience from lay members who generously give of their time to promote the College’s Noble Purpose. A number of vacancies have arisen that we wish to fill, and an advertisement was placed in The Irish Times on Friday, 23 October. Fellows and Members are invited to bring the advertisement to the attention of potentially suitable members of the public who might be interested in applying.

Next week, the new Faculty of Surgical Trainers will issue a survey to all 590 registered Surgical Trainers. We would encourage feedback in relation to how the Faculty can best support them. Finally, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences held a virtual White Coat ceremony on Tuesday, 27 October. It was actually very moving to see the numbers of enthusiastic and committed young faces making their commitments to the health and welfare of the communities they will serve.

It is going to be a long November. Keep motivated, consider participating in Movember and think of what level 3 (or even level 2!) might be like in December.

Keep safe,

Professor P. Ronan O'Connell
President, RCSI