It is a great privilege to take over the presidency of SERGS at this time. The last two years have certainly brought with them great challenges. The global pandemic has restricted travel which could have been the death knell for a relatively young society emerging on an international stage. Instead, we have followed on from our ten year anniversary in Milan in 2018 with a fabulous conference in Sofia in 2019 and the start of our last administration which we sadly must say goodbye to.
Over the last two years we had the introduction of YEARS (Young European Advocates of Robotic Surgery); partnerships with ESGE, ESGO, ORSI, and national societies; the development of a mature educational network (SEN); the maturation of the SERGS certificate; and the commencement of a credentialing process. The society did not just survive the pandemic but thrived. We were the first society to hold an online conference with great success; we issued guidelines for robotic surgery in the COVID era; and proved that we were not just a relevant society but an example to others with officers and council members providing real and important activity. Therefore, it goes without saying how sad it is that the natural turnover of talent is inevitable. Liliana Mereu sadly leaves us having led on the relationships with the societies such as ESGE, and the National societies. This has left us with some mature memorandums of understanding and I am pleased that she is going to continue to help the society in a supportive role. Philippe Van Trappen also leaves us sadly. He provided enormous help with our financial governance and assisted with the webinars and the website. Martin Rudnicki has been a fabulous vice-president and has helped rehabilitate the society by putting on a superb conference in Svendborg. Rene Verheijen steps down having served in almost every officer role of the society and brought an attention to detail that will be sorely missed.
It goes without saying that such a success could not be had without excellent leadership. It is easy to trail-blaze when times are good but to set precedents and break ground in spite of adversity requires the possession of some very special attributes. Rainer Kimmig stands down as president and although he will be taking up an important role in IGCS I am grateful to him for everything he has done and it is reassuring to me knowing that he will be by my side advising whenever asked.
We continue to have the support of medORG. A society with lots of acitivity is a busy society for a secretariat and we are extremely lucky to have Lucie Lamlova dedicating her time to us. She was supported by Iva Zahradnikova who organized SERGS 2022 conference.
So the future looks bright. Our relationship with industry has remained fruitful and enjoyable. In it’s early days, the society could not have existed without the help and encouragement of Intuitive Surgical. As the original innovators in the field, we look forward to the relationship with Intuitive continuing. We all look forward to having face to face meetings again as the pandemic subsides. Members of the society continue to work with industry by providing proctors, publishing in academic journals, presenting the case for robotics on national guidelines, leading on education and credentialing, and giving reasoned and evidenced based defence for robotics when others exist who do not want to see innovation in minimal access approaches to surgery and computer assisted medicine. Together members of our society have worked with Intuitive surgical to present the economic rationale to those who hold the purse strings. Currently there are some new players on the field while others have sadly disappeared. Medtronic, CMR, Hominis, Avatera, Dexter, Meere and Medicaroid are among those who have introduced new robotic technology and it is a privilege to work with these companies too. We have introduced to them our educational and credentialing ambitions and hope to welcome new surgeons who use these platforms to our fold.
The future is exciting as academics and industry continue to innovate. Cloud based benchmarking and audit along with augmented reality already exists and will no doubt be used by all robotic surgeons in the future. Automated surgery look like a very realistic possibility for the future. SERGS remains the oldest, most respected, and most established society involved in training and credentialing in robotic surgery and has made inclusive agreements with other European societies such as ESGE & ESGO to ensure that training is uniform and cross-recognised and that having a SERGS certificate and being credentialed by the society is a meaningful achievement that demonstrates not just training but a reflective practice and continuing professional development. This aspect of the society is the going to be the main focus of my presidency.
I am looking forward to my two year term. I have been blessed with some fabulous officers in the form of Rainer Kimmig (Past President), Vanna Zanagnolo (President Elect), Thomas Herbert (Vice-President), and Henrik Falconer (Secretary / Treasurer). Along with the officers and our new council members I think we are going to achieve a substantial amount in the next two years.
Thomas Ind MB BS MD FRCOG
President of SERGS
Head of Gynaecological Oncology
Royal Marsden Hospital, London, UK
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