Northern Ireland

December 2017

Northern Ireland Report: The highly successful 20th Annual AUGIS Scientific Meeting was attended by a healthy representation of upper gastrointestinal surgeons from the north of Ireland with a good turn-out of consultants, trainees and nurses/AHP’s. Over the course of the autumn we were delighted to report that two new appointees have recently joined the regional HPB service in the Mater Hospital and two are about to take up posts in the oesophago-gastric service in the Belfast City Hospital. These appointments are most encouraging as these expansions had been recommended by respective peer review processes in the previous two years. Both regional services continue to develop. Formal funding has just about been secured to resource a regional OG cancer surgical service. The HPB surgical cancer service continues to seek formal regional funding. On both the oesophago-gastric and the HPB sides we now have more or less regional CNS coverage which is proving most useful in assisting patients along their respective staging pathways and improving communication between regional and local teams during staging, treatment and follow-up. Our regional upper GI cancer network is currently focusing on refinement of staging pathways, exploration of appropriate protocolisation of MDM referrals and follow-up pathway following definitive treatment taking into consideration the oesophago-gastric cancer NICE guidelines currently under consultation.

A little money from Westminster has arrived to address waiting lists, however, the magnitude of the problem, recently highlighted by the BBC (https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09hckrm/spotlight-the-waiting-lists-crisis#), is enormous. Major reconfiguration of regional service delivery as proposed by the Bengoa report “Systems, not Structures” offers the only likelihood of a long term solution. Meanwhile a frenzied period of waiting list activity is about to commence, a very short term fix.

Mr Andrew Kennedy (Northern Ireland rep)