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ISR Autumn Meeting deemed a great success

The 2019 Irish Society for Rheumatology (ISR) Autumn Meeting, which was held in the Killashee Hotel, Naas, from 26-27 September, was deemed a great success, and featured cutting-edge presentations from leading specialist speakers from Ireland and the UK.

A holistic approach to aspects of care was at the core of the meeting with pain in rheumatic disease, fatigue in lupus, management of Behçet’s disease, and quality-of-life issues in osteoporosis, among the topics covered.

The two-day meeting was attended by over 300 delegates and featured some new presentation and research formats.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI) at the end of the conference, ISR President Dr Sinéad Harney, Consultant Rheumatologist, Cork University Hospital, described it as “very successful”.

“One of the new things we did at this meeting was introduce a premier poster round for the best 10 posters. We picked the 10 highest scoring posters and had each presenter do a two-minute presentation to myself and Prof Orla Fearon and we picked two winners from that. We brought the delegates with us on the tour. It is something they have been doing for years at the American meetings, but not at the Irish meetings, and that was popular.

“Another change in this year’s programme was we had a new roundtable session on conundrums in rheumatology and we had good feedback on that so we are going to keep that.

“Another thing we did was anyone who got money from the Rheumatology Patients Improvement Fund (RPIF) last year gave quick presentations so we could hear where the money was going so that was a nice session.”

It was Dr Harney’s last major educational meeting in her two-year term as ISR President (the next ISR President will be Prof Geraldine McCarthy).

“It’s been a great two years. If there is one message from it, having done the Dublin mini marathon last year, and other running and triathlon events since, it is that patient participation in sport and exercise is essential for general wellbeing and vitality. We need to push that message a lot more … Exercise should be on our prescription pad for everyone,” Dr Harney told MI.

Meanwhile, Dr Paul O’Connell, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, was given an ISR Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to the field of rheumatology and research.

Speaking to MI, Dr O’Connell said he was “greatly honoured to receive the award”.

“It is great to be recognised by your peers. I was very pleased to get it. I suppose it is the culmination of 40 years in rheumatology and from that point of view it is an honour that I loved getting and am very appreciative of.”

Highlighting the changes in rheumatology since he started practising, Dr O’Connell said there have been hugely positive advances in what the specialty can do for its patients.

“We have gone from having rows and rows of patients with really deforming RA [rheumatoid arthritis] to the point where we’re really disappointed if they do badly. So it has been a dramatic change in that sense. However, there are always challenges. There are new diseases and lots of diseases we still don’t have a grip of and there is a small group of patients with RA that we haven’t got control of. So there are always challenges, but I think Irish rheumatology is in rude health at the moment. We desperately need an increase in numbers, but I do think that we are very much up to the challenge and there are plenty more challenges for the young people coming into rheumatology.”

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