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In a letter in February addressed to the then RCSI President Prof John Hyland, Council members Mr Eamon Mackle, Consultant General Surgeon at Craigavon Area Hospital, and Mr Joseph O’Beirne, Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon at University Hospital Waterford, made the case for a major expansion of the RCSI’s role in Northern Ireland.
The letter included a suggestion that the RCSI consider “in time” opening an office in Belfast. The two surgeons wrote that “an RCSI with a brief in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, and ultimately with Fellows and Members throughout the island, would be a stronger institution”.
The letter noted existing links but added that “we feel there is much more that can and should be done in collaboration with our colleagues in Northern Ireland”.
“We suggest that any such approach must be done in a spirit of co-operation and mutual respect. Thus, any initiative on the part of the RCSI cannot come across as ‘selfishly driven’ — just acquiring more Fellows for RCSI — but rather in a spirit of developing genuine professional collegiality.”
They suggested the two-way exchange of trainees in smaller specialties and for specialties to hold more educational events on a cross-border basis, as well as the possibility that the RCSI could extend simulated surgical training across the border.
A College spokesperson told the Medical Independent: “RCSI has considerable links with Fellows and Members in Northern Ireland. In fact, it is policy of RCSI to act as an all-island College. We are looking at ways we can support Fellows and Members of RCSI in Northern Ireland, as we do for our Fellows and Members across the globe.
“Brexit, however, presents a new challenge. We have linked closely with the Northern Ireland Medical Training Deanery to look at ways we can deliver relevant training courses for trainees in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“We have many Fellows from Northern Ireland on our Court of Examiners. We are fortunate that the surgical training curriculae are based on the intercollegiate curriculae across the UK and Ireland. RCSI recently held a regional Fellows and Members meeting in Belfast and this was well attended by Fellows, Members and surgical trainees in Northern Ireland.”