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A unique conference for a unique year

32nd IHCA AGM, Saturday 10 October 2020, Virtual Annual General Meeting and Conference

The 32nd IHCA AGM and annual conference was a unique event this year, because of the pandemic, it took place entirely online. In terms of attendance, the virtual conference was deemed a success. Dr Gabrielle Colleran, who was recently re-elected as Vice President of the Association, said this year’s event was “our highest attendance ever so far, so we are really delighted with that level of participation”.

The Association’s Membership Secretary Dr Conor O’Riordan, Consultant Radiologist, St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, noted a further increase in IHCA members this year to 3,168.

“If you look at it from a decade-long view, you can see there is a 35 per cent increase on what we had back in 2010,” he said. With another increase this year, “we expect further increases in the years ahead”.

Prof Clare Fallon, IHCA Treasurer and Consultant in Geriatric Medicine, Regional Hospital Mullingar, said: “It has been a strong year financially for
the Association with the vast majority of the income from ordinary members’ subscriptions, which is up on the previous financial year.”

She described the IHCA as in “quite a healthy situation” in terms of finance. Motions were passed at the conference calling for increased ICU capacity; reduction in waiting times for radiology; encouraging consultants to get the seasonal influenza vaccine; and for parity of esteem for mental and physical health.

Voices from the conference

We see this across all areas of healthcare. People are afraid to interact with healthcare and to come into healthcare settings because of fear of Covid-19.”

Dr Noirin Russell, Clinical Director of CervicalCheck and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Cork University Maternity Hospital, highlighting that nearly 90 per cent of women have not responded to an invitation to undergo cervical cancer screening in recent months

Something that is starting to cause concern is the next generation. We are seeing massive disruption in training. We know with certain areas, such as dentistry, students are having to do another final year because they are simply not getting enough hands-on experience. We are also seeing a problem with de-skilling in surgery… I know a number of surgeons and colleges and associations have raised concerns about that.”

Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director, Medical Protection Society

We know delivering complex bed capacity isn’t a question of just calling Mattress Mick. We know for every intensive care bed we need six highly trained nurses; we need senior decision-makers. We know it’s the same for acute beds; we need a lot more support in general.”

Prof Alan Irvine, IHCA President, on capacity concerns

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