5 July 2021

Dear Fellows and Members,

It is midsummer and time for the July Conferring Ceremony. After a torrid past 15 months, I had hoped to be able to celebrate in person with the 75 new RCSI Fellows and Members and the 650 Fellows, Members and Diplomates from the Faculties of Dentistry, Radiology and Sports and Exercise Medicine. Sadly, COVID-19 has yet again imposed a virtual ceremony, but this in no way detracts from their achievements. My sincere congratulations to all.

Notwithstanding increasing concern regarding the Delta variant, we in Ireland have so far prevailed because of the leadership and exemplary commitment of our healthcare workforce. I do not for one moment believe that we can simply reset the clock and resume healthcare where we left off. Service delivery must change – there are unprecedented numbers of patients waiting for hospital appointments and scheduled procedures. We must ensure that the price of COVID-19 is not the excess mortality of delayed diagnosis or untreated illness. This is both the challenge and the opportunity for our new Fellows, Members and Diplomates.

I hope you have been able to participate in some of the Wednesday evening webinars. The format was initially designed to keep Fellows and Members up to date with information on surgical services during the early phases of the pandemic. Over time the series has evolved into a multidisciplinary platform for CME that has allowed much closer contact between Fellows and Members and the College. The recent webinar on the new Intercollegiate Surgical Curriculum where important information regarding continuous assessment in training was easily accessible is a case in point. The series will break for July and August and resume in September. I would welcome suggestions on how it might be improved. A portfolio of the 54 webinars to date is available on the RCSI website.

Plans for the 2022 Charter Meeting to be held on 1–5 February are well advanced. We hope that a hybrid meeting will be possible with in-person participation in the College and online participation for those who cannot travel. The 2021 meeting attracted over 4,000 registrants from 48 countries ,showing the immense power of modern communication. The theme for the 2022 meeting will be The Long Life of a Surgeon and will feature symposia on 'The new shape of a surgical career', 'Equality and diversity in practice' and 'The late career surgeon'. I am delighted that Ms Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, has agreed to deliver a keynote address.

This week RCSI will co-host the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Forum: Health and Wellbeing on 7 and 8 July. The forum will gather international leaders and subject experts from higher education institutions to share research ideas and solutions on diseases that impact on human health. I am delighted WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will deliver a keynote address. Registration is complimentary (www.timeshighered-events.com/impact-health-forum-2021) – already more than 1,200 delegates from around the world are registered.

It was with great sadness that I learnt this week of the death of Dr Barbara Murphy, RCSI graduate, Chair of the Department of Medicine for the Mount Sinai Health System and Dean for Clinical Integration and Population Health at Mount Sinai, New York. She was one of our most distinguished alumni and together her brother Kieran and sister Celine (both also alumni) was an extraordinary supporter of RCSI. She received an honorary degree from UCD in 2016 and an honorary doctorate from RCSI in 2018. RIP.

On a happier note, I was very pleased to learn that our 2021 Millin Lecturer Mr Colin Pierce and his colleagues in Limerick University Hospital have been recognized by the European Society of Coloproctology as a Robotic Centre for training ESCP Fellows. Well done to all.

I hope that despite ongoing COVID-19 restrictions you will enjoy some recreation and family time over July and August.

Best wishes

P. Ronan O'Connell