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Sylvester O Halloran Perioperative Symposium now the largest surgical meeting in Ireland



Sylvester O Halloran Perioperative – Approximately 500 medical experts are expected to attend the single largest national surgical meeting in Ireland. Pictured are Paul Reid, CEO of the HSE and Dr Catherine Motherway, Consultant Anaesthetist at University Hospital Limerick.

Sylvester O Halloran Perioperative Symposium now the largest surgical meeting in Ireland

Recent easing of Covid-19 restrictions offered “renewed hope that we are moving towards a more normal environment in which we can tackle waiting lists, change and improve how we do many things and build on innovations made during the pandemic”, Paul Reid, CEO of the Health Service Executive, has said ahead of addressing one of Ireland’s largest surgical conferences taking place in Limerick this weekend.

The Sylvester O Halloran Perioperative Symposium is again taking place online this year on Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5. Approximately 500 attendees, mostly surgeons, surgical trainees and other healthcare professionals from all over Ireland and abroad, are expected to register over the two days for what is now the single largest national surgical meeting in Ireland.




Among the keynote speakers this year are Mr Paul Reid, Dr Catherine Motherway, Consultant Anaesthetist, University Hospital Limerick, and Prof Luke O’Neill, Chair, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College Dublin.

The pandemic had contributed to growing waiting lists for surgical patients as scheduled care was reduced as part of the emergency response. While challenges remain around infection control and in relation to recruitment, plans were now being put in place to reduce waiting lists.

Mr Reid said, “Given the precedence which COVID-19 has taken over many important things, it is my intention in the year ahead to devote substantial efforts to the issue of unacceptable waiting times for scheduled care. This will not be an easy task if we do not bring COVID-19 under control again but we have a number of different levers to assist us next year, not least through the continuation of our strong partnerships with the voluntary and the private sectors. 

“Through the Multi-Annual Waiting List Plan, being developed jointly with the Department of Health and with the support of the clinical community, we are determined to make significant improvements to unacceptable waiting times, and to embark upon a cycle of year-on-year improvement.”

Recent days have seen the publication of the 2022 Waiting List Action Plan and HSE National Service Plan 2022, both of which set out new targets on waiting lists, with a focus on the longest waiters.

During his Limerick address “Covid, and Coming Through It” at the Sylvester O Halloran Perioperative Symposium, Mr Reid would outline how there were many lessons from the pandemic which could now be applied in addressing longstanding challenges in the health service.

“I am particularly proud of the responsiveness our health service showed during the public health emergency. There has never been change implemented so quickly by so many and with such great impact. Our pandemic experience has highlighted the importance of fast, decisive action. With the support of Government and all of our health stakeholders, we implemented new pathways of care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 services, built hospital capacity, resourced community services to treat people closer to home, and developed and adopted eHealth technology at an unprecedented rate. While brought about through difficult circumstances, these changes are aligned with our long-term Sláintecare direction and I am committed to ensuring that many of these new ways of working will be here to stay,” Mr Reid said.

Dr Catherine Motherway is to deliver this year’s Sir Thomas Myles Lecture on “Covid 19 and Perioperative Care: A Wake-Up Call! Plan for the Future” focusing in particular on how the pandemic has affected perioperative patients.

“We must build on some of the positives of the pandemic born of the need to change but we must also acknowledge and address the overwhelming effect of deferred scheduled care. The issue of how we catch up, the ethical challenges we have faced and continue to face, and how we manage that given the finite resource and the absolute exhaustion after the last two years; is a challenge,” Dr Motherway said.

“We must now address the pre-existing and ongoing problem of providing scheduled care in the face of limited beds. This does need a coordinated plan with input from the bottom up and not just from the top down. COVID-19 showed the best in the Irish public. Now we must find a way to sustainably resource our services and to attract and retain skilled staff who are in demand.”

From its beginnings in 1992, the annual Sylvester O’Halloran meeting has developed into one of the most anticipated such events in Ireland and, increasingly, internationally. The symposium has been posted on some of the leading surgical websites around the world, including the American College of Surgeons.

In a normal year, the symposium can attract over 500 attendees to Limerick. However, this year’s event is again taking place on a virtual platform in line with the public health guidelines.  The virtual platform allows the organisers to overcome geographical limitations and already attendees have registered from Malaysia, Australia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA.

The Sylvester O’Halloran Virtual Perioperative Scientific Symposium is collaboratively hosted by the Departments of Surgery, Anaesthesia, Nursing, ENT and Orthopaedics, in conjunction with the Perioperative Directorate at UL Hospitals Group and the School of Medicine, University of Limerick. 

Sessions are taking place on anaesthesia and critical care as well as the specialities including breast, gastrointestinal, colorectal, vascular, orthopaedics and ENT/head and neck.

There are several awards for presenters which include the prestigious Sylvester O’Halloran Prize and O’Shaughnessy Prize in Anaesthetics. 


About Sylvester O’Halloran (1728 – 1807):

Sylvester O Halloran Perioperative

Sylvester O’Halloran was a renowned surgeon/historian born in Limerick early in the 18th century.

Sylvester O’Halloran was a renowned surgeon/historian born in Limerick early in the 18th Century. His choice of career was influenced by the great lack of surgical services in Limerick and in Ireland at that time. Having completed a brilliant course of study in London and Paris, he returned to his native city in 1749 well equipped to begin his great humanitarian task. He and others founded the Limerick County Infirmary in the city in 1761. The foundation stone is now preserved in the Sylvester O’Halloran Post Graduate Centre at University Hospital Limerick.

Despite his many outstanding achievements in surgery and literature, Sylvester O’Halloran’s most enduring legacy is the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He had been very impressed while in France with the Académie Royale de Chirurgie, which had been founded in Paris in 1731 during the reign of Louis XV. Sylvester O’Halloran’s Proposals for the Advancement of Surgery in Ireland (1765) and his driving enthusiasm were responsible for the establishment of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1784; he was awarded honorary membership of the RCSI in 1786. His passionate commitment to education, research and surgical skills marked him out from his contemporaries. He was a dedicated doctor to his numerous patients whom he looked after with great compassion.

The annual Sylvester O’Halloran Meeting, named in his honour, was started in 1992 by the late Limerick surgeon, Mr Peter Delaney and Professor Eamonn McQuaid of UL. It has been subsequently run by Limerick surgeons Prof Pierce Grace, Ms Shona Tormey and, more recently, Prof J Calvin Coffey and Mr Tony Moloney.

For more stories on Sylvester O Halloran, go HERE 

For more information on the Sylvester O Halloran Perioperative Symposium, go HERE

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.