As I write to you all the country is facing a second wave of the pandemic, which brings huge implications for the health of the nation and the freedom of all of us to work and rest as we please. We have all given so much over the last six months under very difficult and stressful circumstances.
Over the last six months all of you in the United Kingdom and across the world have worked so hard to rise to the challenge of dealing with coronavirus in each of your communities and countries. I am proud to say that our College has been with you (albeit virtually) and have continued to provide education and support to Members and Fellows wherever you are. Our free webinars with crucial up to date information across all specialties and grades have been available sometimes up to 3 times weekly for everybody. We have particularly concentrated on the support of surgeons in training who probably have been impacted more than any other group during COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. Many have been redeployed and all have had their training in the craft of surgery curtailed. We have specifically targeted our trainees in communicating updates on their training and their examinations making sure that all are fully informed of the latest developments for their career progression. We have also focussed on teaching our Affiliates, medical students and newly qualified doctors with a series of educational webinars to help with surgical teaching.
It is a privilege for me to be the President of our College especially through these challenging times. There can be no doubt that I continue to miss the opportunities to engage with our international community at diploma ceremonies and examinations around the world. I have profoundly missed the diploma ceremonies and the engagements we have with our Members and Fellows here in the United Kingdom too. Our UK sites are virtually open for business as usual in Edinburgh and in Birmingham but I do miss being present at face-to-face meetings in these wonderful cities. As many of you will know we have had to cancel our plans for future face-to-face diploma ceremonies in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, it came to our attention that a number of national and international Members and Fellows had already made their travel plans and hotel arrangements to come to Edinburgh. As a College we have decided that I should meet (with significant social distancing) those individuals whose travel could not be postponed. So, in October and November there are indeed a handful of national and international Members and Fellows who will come to the College and receive a diploma. Of course, this will not rival the wonderful spectacle of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh routine diploma ceremony. Nevertheless, it does provide them and their family a visit to the College in a secure and safe manner in the grounds of our beautiful campus. Sadly, there will be no more celebrations for the time being. I do long for the day when some kind of normality can resume that allows the friendships, and relationships to restart the way our truly friendly College is used to.
Celebrating your success matters hugely to me personally and to the College. We shall restart those celebrations as soon as we are able. Please, continue to join our webinars and use our emails and our social media updates because invariably they focus on you. Please keep in touch with us wherever you are and let us know how the pandemic is affecting you in your environment and in whatever country you practice.
I hope you will also find our new RCSEd App useful. It gathers together all the news, webinars, podcasts and library resources in one place – on your phone and tablet. It also gives up to date information on when, where and how our many courses and examinations will be held and allows you to book online. You can download the App for free on Google play or IOS app store by searching ‘RCSEd’ in your app store.
You will also see that we have taken the opportunity to update our College logo. We felt we needed a bit more gravitas and to show the heritage of the College, showing us as a powerful but benevolent force. We chose three elements to combine for our new marque. Two are from the College crest – the Sun and the Castle. The Sun is a symbol we use regularly in the College which indicates the sun rising over ignorance. We put an international globe inside the sun to show our global reach. After all, we have over 15000 members and fellows based overseas. The Castle indicates ‘of Edinburgh’ which of course is our key differentiator. We are very proud of the fact that Edinburgh was the seat of learning in medicine for a very long time and many innovations in our profession emerged from the University and the College in the City. We added 1505 to the front of the Castle – it is the date when we received our Royal charter from James IV. Which leads me on to the third element – the Unicorn. The Unicorn is the heraldic animal of Scotland and a favourite of James IV who depicted it on his coins. The animal, which is known in the East and West as a horse of healing and a force for good, has many useful qualities including healing and nurturing powers, boldness, purity, intelligence, joy, hope and positivity. Not a bad set of values for us to live by.
In order to help us lobby for more support, The College is sending out a survey to not only UK Members and Fellows, but also our international membership, asking for information regarding the treatment and diagnosis of cancer patients and the provision of testing to provide safe sites for surgery and diagnostic procedures. We also ask our international membership to let us know about circumstances in the hospitals in which you work.
Please remember that our College is here for you wherever you are. We want to hear from you we want to engage with you and we want to support you. We are thinking of you all and look forward to happier and safer times.
Professor S Michael Griffin OBE PRCSEd MD FFSTEd FRCS(Eng)FRCP&SGlas Hon) FRCSI(Hon)FCSHK FCSSL(Hon), Professor of Surgery, President Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh