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All the latest developments in gastroenterology

By Mindo - 27th May 2022

Irish Society of Gastroenterology

All-Ireland Gastroenterology Summer Meeting (ISG/USG), Europa Hotel, Belfast, 9-10 June 2022.

Delegates can expect to hear a wide range of interesting presentations at the upcoming All-Ireland Gastroenterology Summer Meeting.

The All-Ireland Irish Society of Gastroenterology (ISG)/Ulster Society of Gastroenterology (USG) Summer Meeting will take place in the Europa Hotel, Belfast on 9-10 June. The meeting will be in a hybrid format, so delegates will be able to attend virtually, or in-person. ISG President Prof Deirdre McNamara said that there is much to recommend the format beyond the pandemic. 

Prof Deirdre McNamara

“It gives colleagues who can’t travel or choose not to travel the opportunity to still dial in and participate virtually,” Prof McNamara, who is Consultant Gastroenterologist at Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin, told the Medical Independent (MI)

“It is one of the things we learned from Covid and I think it is the way forward.” 

However, Prof McNamara is still looking forward to the fact that the meeting is the first significant face-to-face event held by the Society since the onset of the pandemic. She also pointed to the All-Ireland nature of the meeting, the ISG’s close links with the USG, and the fact that the event will be held in Belfast. The current USG President Dr Tony Tham, who is Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, Belfast, is a former ISG President. 

“Gastroenterology has always been very much at the fore of an All-Ireland approach to healthcare,” Prof McNamara said. 

“I think during Covid we showed we could cooperate very well. And this is again building on that.” 


The first symposium of the meeting is entitled ‘Endoscopy: Tips and tricks’. It will feature talks by Dr Bu Hayee, Consultant Gastroenterologist, King’s College Hospital, London, UK; Dr Roos Pouw, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Amsterdam UMC, Netherlands; and Prof Helmut Neumann, Director of Endoscopy, University Medical Centre Mainz, Germany. 

Dr Hayee will talk about ‘green’ endoscopy. Dr Hayee was an author of the paper ‘Green endoscopy: Using quality improvement to develop sustainable practice’, which was published in the BMJ journal, Frontline Gastroenterology, last year. The article aimed to provide a framework to design and implement quality improvement projects in gastroenterology as a strategy to deliver a more sustainable future in line with the UK’s National Health Service “net zero” targets. 

“You can’t but be aware in the news of climate change, and its impact, and the need for immediate action,” Prof McNamara said. 

“And medicine can play a role and is part of that too.” 

Prof McNamara said the e-poster format, which the Summer Meeting will employ, ties into this green theme by eliminating the waste associated with printed posters. 

The title of Dr Pouw’s presentation is ‘Managing refractory oesophageal strictures’. Her research interest is focussed on improving outcomes and quality-of-life in patients with oesophageal adenocarcinoma, and to prevent patients from developing the cancer. 

In terms of improving the management of patients with early-stage oesophageal adenocarcinoma, Dr Pouw has said: “As an interventional endoscopist I am constantly trying to find less invasive, more effective and safer methods to treat patients with early stages of oesophageal adenocarcinoma and precursor lesions. This ranges from studying new endoscopic techniques or devices, to evaluating new management strategies.” 

Prof Neumann is an internationally recognised internist and gastroenterologist. He is actively involved in basic and clinical research in the areas of advanced endoscopic imaging. 

He has many years of experience in the field of endoscopic therapy for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. During his career he developed new techniques for the endoscopic therapy of neuroendocrine tumours and Zenker’s diverticulum. 


The second symposium is entitled ‘Hepatology for the gastroenterologist’. Dr Conor Braniff, Consultant Hepatologist, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, will speak about ‘When to refer for elastography’. 

‘Drug-induced liver injury’ is the title of the presentation by Dr Omar El-Sherif, Consultant Hepatologist, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin. 

Dr Charles Millson, Consultant Hepatologist, York Hospital, York, UK, will give advice about transplant referrals. 

Dr Millson is an author of recent liver transplant guidelines in the UK. In relation to the pre-operation period, the guidelines state: “Managing expectation and balancing the uncertainty of organ availability against the inevitable progression of underlying liver disease requires sensitivity and honesty from all healthcare providers, and the assessment of palliative care needs is an integral part of this process.” 

Ms Claire Jones, Consultant Hepatobiliary Surgeon, Mater Hospital, Belfast, will speak on the subject of managing colorectal metastases in the liver. 

She completed her surgical training in Northern Ireland followed by a HPB fellowship in Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham. Clinically, Ms Jones has a particular interest in pancreatic cancer and minimally invasive hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery. 


The third symposium will be held on the second day of the conference. It is on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). ‘Managing IBD in the setting of spondyloarthropathies’ is the title of a talk by Dr Timothy Raine, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK. 

Dr Raine’s research is focussed on understanding the regulation of the gastrointestinal immune system, in particular in the context of IBD. 

He has developed novel techniques for the extraction and characterisation of immunocytes from human gut endoscopic biopsies and used these together with ex vivo analysis methods, including polychromatic flow cytometry, live cell confocal microscopy, and microfluidic systems. 

Prof Séverine Vermeire, Consultant Gastroenterologist, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium, will speak about the use of small molecules in IBD treatment. 

Prof Vermeire is actively involved as principal investigator in randomised clinical trials with new therapeutic compounds and has been lead investigator on several of these programmes. 

Dr Gareth Parkes, Consultant Gastroenterologist, the London Independent Hospital, UK, will outline to delegates how new IBD apps can provide a useful aid in patient management. 

Surgery for perianal Crohn’s disease is the subject of the presentation by Ms Christianne J Buskens, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 

Other challenges 

The final symposium of the conference addresses ‘Other challenges in gastroenterology’. 

Dr Harriet Gordon, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, UK, will speak on the subject of burnout in relation to gastroenterology and how physicians can cope. Dr Gordon has been workforce representative with the British Society of Gastroenterology and Director of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) medical workforce unit. 

Prof McNamara told MI that the subject of burnout is of increasing concern to the medical profession and also reflects a greater openness within society to discuss mental health problems. 

“There are still ongoing HR issues, in that we are short-staffed across the whole of the health service,” she said. 

“But I think it is only now that some of us are taking a deep breath and realising what the impact [of the pandemic] was. And I think there will be a burnout issue. That’s why I was very keen to include that talk. Like a lot of things, it depends on the era you graduated. In my era, you didn’t talk about stress and anxiety and all the rest of it; you kept going and worked all the hours available. Whereas now, which is part of the reason for doing the talk, there is more of an openness about mental health in society in general. There is more of a recognition that it’s okay to ask for help.” 

Prof McNamara highlighted positive developments in the specialty, with the establishment of the National Clinical Programme for Gastroenterology and Hepatology in October 2019. 

“We have had a lot of new appointments in certain areas, there have been a good few in endoscopy and hepatology, which is very welcome,” according to the professor. 

“But we are still behind our European and English colleagues in the number of gastroenterologists per capita. So anyone who is in the field is working hard. There are still major challenges around staff retention, staff appointments, and getting funding streams to allow us to do the work we want to do. Waiting lists are a huge challenge.” 

‘Coeliac disease management – when the gluten free diet fails’ is the title of the talk by Dr Jeremy Woodward, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK. 

Since 2002, Dr Woodward has pursued a career in general luminal gastroenterology – providing a comprehensive service in upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, and the management of general gastrointestinal complaints. 

Finally, Dr Peter Byrne, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, Royal London Hospital, UK, will discuss the psychosocial aspects of gastroparesis. 

In addition to the symposium, the meeting will feature poster sessions, case presentations, and awards. There will also be an industry satellite meeting sponsored by Galapagos Pharma. 

The event will allow colleagues who might not have met for over two years the chance to reconnect, according to Prof McNamara. 

“It will be wonderful to re-establish friendships and bonds, which are just as important as the academic developments,” she said. 

“I expect there will be a smile on everybody’s faces when they see each other again.”

Conference Agenda


10.15-11.30 SYMPOSIUM 1  Endoscopy tips and tricks  Chairs: Dr Philip Hall, Belfast Trust  Dr Jan Leyden, Mater Hospital, Dublin 
10.15-10.40 Green endoscopy  Dr Bu Hayee,Consultant Gastroenterologist,  Kings College Hospital, London, UK 
10.40-11.05 Managing refractory oesophageal strictures  Dr Roos Pouw,  Consultant Gastroenterologist,  Amsterdam UMC, Netherlands 
11.05-11.30 Optimising endoscopic surveillance in IBD  Prof Helmut Neumann,  Director of Endoscopy,  University Medical Centre Mainz, Germany 
11.50-12.50 Parallel E-poster sessions  (IBD/hepatology/endoscopy/nutrition, other GI)  (Ten abstracts in each room – 5 mins + 1 min)  Chairs:  IBD: Mr Tim McAdam, Belfast Trust  Dr Garret Cullen, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin  Hepatology: Dr Leanne Stratton, Belfast City Hospital, NI  Dr Clifford Kiat, Cork University Hospital, Cork  Endoscopy: Mr Ray Kennedy, Belfast City Hospital, NI  Dr Subhasish Sengupta, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin  Other GI: Dr Carolyn Adgey, Royal Victoria Hospital, NI  Dr Grainne Holleran, St James’s Hospital, Dublin 
12.50-13.40 Lunch/meet the industry 
13.40-15.00 SYMPOSIUM 2  Hepatology for the gastroenterologist  Chairs: Dr Tony Tham, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald  Prof John Ryan, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 
13.40-14.00 When to refer for elastography  Dr Conor Braniff,  Consultant Hepatologist,  Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, NI 
14.00-14.20 Drug induced liver injury  Dr Omar El-Sherif,  Consultant Hepatologist,  St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin 
14.20-14.40 Who should we refer for transplant  Dr Charles Millson,  Consultant Hepatologist,  York Hospital, York, UK 
14.40-15.00 Managing colorectal metastases in the liver  Ms Claire Jones,  Consultant Hepatobiliary Surgeon  Mater Hospital, Belfast, NI 
15.00-15.30 Coffee/Meet the industry 
15.30-16.30 NCHD session case presentations including videos  (Five cases – 10mins + 2 mins)  Chairs: TBC 
16.30-17.00 Best of the rest – E-posters  (Top six abstracts to present again – 4 mins + 1 min)  Chairs: Dr Shivaram Bhat, Craigavon Area Hospital, NI  Dr Donal Tighe, University Hospital Mayo 
17.00-17.15 Poster/case presentation awards ceremony 
17.15-18.15 Industry satellite meeting sponsored by Galapagos Pharma 
19.00/19.30 Reception and Conference Dinner 


09.00- 10.20 SYMPOSIUM 3  IBD  Chairs:  Dr Leah Gilroy, Royal Victoria Hospital, NI  Dr Mary Hussey, University Hospital Galway 
09.00- 09.20 Managing IBD in the setting of spondyloarthropathies  Dr Timothy Raine,  Consultant Gastroenterologist,  Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK 
09.20- 09.40 Small molecules in IBD where will we position them?  Prof Séverine Vermeire,  Consultant Gastroenterologist,  University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium 
09.40- 10.00 New IBD apps for patient management  Dr Gareth Parkes,  Consultant Gastroenterologist,  The London Independent Hospital, London, UK 
10.00- 10.20 Surgery for perianal Crohn’s  Ms Christianne J Buskens,  Consultant Colorectal Surgeon,  Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands 
10.20- 11.20 Parallel best scientific and clinical abstract sessions (orals)  (Clinical in Main Room – Six orals in each room – 8 mins + 2 mins)  Chairs:  Clinical Abstracts: Dr Richard Turkington, Belfast City Hospital, NI  Prof Glen Doherty, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin  Scientific Abstracts: Dr Rebecca O’Kane, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald  Dr Fintan O’Hara, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin 
11.20- 11.40 Coffee/meet the industry 
11.40- 12.00 Best of the rest – Oral abstracts  (Two scientific abstracts – 8 mins + 2 mins)  Chairs: Dr Rebecca O’Kane, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald  Dr Fintan O’Hara, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin 
12.00- 13.00 SYMPOSIUM 4  Other challenges in gastroenterology  Chairs: Dr Catriona McKenna, Antrim Area Hospital, NI  Dr Ramona McLoughlin, University Hospital Galway 
12.00- 12.20 Burnout in gastroenterology and how to cope  Dr Harriet Gordon,  Consultant Gastroenterologist,  Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, UK 
12.20- 12.40 Coeliac disease management when the gluten free diet fails  Dr Jeremy Woodward,  Consultant Gastroenterologist,  Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK 
12.40- 13.00 Gastroparesis – Psychosocial aspects  Dr Peter Byrne,  Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist,  Royal London Hospital, UK 
13.00- 13.15 Meeting close and Awards Ceremony

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