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Surgeons disillusioned by HSE’s cancer snub

By Lloyd Mudiwa. Surgeons are understood to have been disappointed when they were not consulted over the development of the National Cancer Control Strategy, it has emerged.

Mr Ken Mealy: ‘No RCSI input’

A survey by the training body for surgeons in Ireland of its Fellows and Members revealed their disappointment with the snub, according to the RCSI.

“[The survey] took place at the same time as implementation of the National Cancer Control Programme, developed without any input from the RCSI and I think that disturbed a lot of surgeons and the College,” Mr Ken Mealy, who is an RCSI Council Member, told Irish Medical Times last week.

Mr Mealy, who is also the RCSI Chair of the Committee for Surgical Affairs, said this had prompted the College to engage with the HSE in the development of the health service in a way that would not have been envisaged 10 years previously.

While the Cancer Strategy was appropriate and would improve standards, rationalise and streamline the management of cancer patients in this country, its development without discussions with surgeons was inappropriate, as 80 per cent of patients cured of cancer were cured by surgery, said the General Surgeon at Wexford General Hospital. The remaining 20 per cent were cured by medical oncology and radiotherapy.

“So when the opportunity came along to work with [HSE Director of Clinical Care] Dr Barry White’s 40 clinical programmes, we took it based on the fact that we had a clear mandate from our Fellows to do that,” he commented.

Council elections
In other news, the College has once again rallied its Fellows to take ownership of the national training body for surgery by putting themselves up for election to its governing committee, the Council.

This followed a survey of the College’s Fellows, which revealed that Fellows felt the College was not doing enough to engage with them. Mr Mealy described it as a great opportunity for surgeons to get involved and help shape the new infrastructure being put in place in the College’s Department of Surgical Affairs (DoSA) “at this very pivotal time”.

Mr Mealy, who heads a working group formed on foot of the survey to help engage Fellows and Members with DoSA, said engagement was mutual and it was also incumbent on Fellows to engage with the College in order to help influence its direction.

To this end, he said, notice had just been issued to eligible surgeons to put themselves up for election. The deadline was March 23 and the forthcoming elections for the 21-member Council will be on Wednesday, June 6.

The election itself will be conducted using an online voting system, and Fellows and Members will be issued in April with information on candidates.

lloyd.mudiwa@imt.ie

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