4 August 2020

Dear Fellows and Members,

Just as a week may be a long time in politics, two weeks seems a long time without a President’s newsletter. The last fortnight has been busy and I feel it important to keep you up to date with developments in relation to interactions with the Medical Council, HSE, NDPT and our sister Royal Colleges of Surgeons.

The Medical Council has published a summary of its consultation 'Moving through Wave-1 of COVID-19' which represents a summary of consultations held with patients and doctors regarding the challenges of reintroducing non-COVID scheduled care. The Council stresses the importance of communication, the role of telemedicine, the importance of retaining medical graduates and prioritising career development for non-EU doctors.

The HSE and Clinical Programmes continue to work on the Recovery and Transformation Plan for the reintroduction of scheduled care. The details of the challenge facing us are stark – over 880,000 patients are awaiting scheduled care services across the public system. In addition there has been a significant drop in the numbers presenting for care since the outbreak of COVID-19. It is assumed that these patients will present in coming months. Reorganisation and co-ordination of services will be required. Fellows and Members must engage and be as flexible as possible to meet these needs.

Both the Medical Council and the HSE identify a need to re-examine the current public/private healthcare divide in the context of Sláintecare. The Forum of Postgraduate Training Bodies has emphasised that supervised training must be facilitated on site where services are being delivered, including private hospitals. In that context, there are ongoing contacts between RSCI, the College of Anaesthesiologists and RCPI to ensure training needs are not overlooked in any outsourcing of scheduled care.

The NDTP held a meeting with the Forum of Postgraduate Training bodies to discuss the implications for non-training scheme NCHDs in the light of the recently published report Demand for Medical Consultants and Specialists to 2028. There was agreement that consultant numbers must increase with a commensurate reduction in non-training positions. At the same time appropriate career development support should be available for those in non-training positions. RCSI supports this objective though our CPD programme. RCSI will undertake a gap analysis to determine how best to meet the career needs of non-training programme NCHDs.

The Joint Surgical Colleges meeting was dominated by COVID-19 related matters, particularly the need to hold diets of the Membership and Intercollegiate Fellowship examinations. Those who have registered for postponed examinations will have received communication from ICBSE (Membership) or JCIE (Fellowship) regarding plans to hold written examinations in September and clinical examinations in November. Modifications to the clincial exam format will be required. These will be communicated as soon as regulatory approval has been obtained. Other major issues discussed were a move to introduce credentialling for cosmetic surgery and a review of endocrine surgery in the UK. I have asked Prof Deborah McNamara, Chair of the RCSI Committee for Surgical Affairs, to convene short life working groups to review the proposals and how they might be considered in an Irish context.

On 23 July a small and socially distanced group celebrated the unveilling of past-President Kenneth Mealy’s portrait by artist, Catherine Creaney in the College Boardroom. The portrait is remarkably true to Ken’s features and personality and captures both his and RCSI’s vision and ambitions for the future. I trust that you will have the opportunity to see the portrait in position over the Boardroom staircase in the not too distant future.

I hope that you and those close to you enjoy some free time in coming weeks. May I wish all Fellows and Members of the Muslim faith a prayerful and joyous Eid al-Adha.

Kind regards,

P. Ronan O’Connell