It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the Irish Thoracic Society Annual Scientific Meeting 2023. Warm thanks and congratulations to Professor Aidan O’Brien and colleagues for putting together an excellent educational programme. Over the past year the ITS has continued to work hard to serve the interests of our members and their patients under our four pillars of Communications & Advocacy; Education and training; Research and Membership Services – I would like to take this opportunity to update you on some of the highlights.
A return to face-to-face mode for the ITS Annual Scientific Meeting was a much-welcomed development in December 2022. Congratulations to Dr Ruairi Fahy, Dr Brian Canavan, Dr Eleanor Dunican and Dr Brian Kent on organising an excellent educational and social event. The Virtual ILD MDT and Clinical Update took place in February co-hosted by the Irish Thoracic Society and the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association and featuring the Fergus Goodbody Memorial Lecture delivered by Professor Michael Kreuter. Thanks to the expert panel who took part in the MDT discussion of interesting cases and congratulations to Dr Lucy Power, Galway University Hospital who received the Terence Moran Memorial Award for Best Case Presentation. Another highlight of the year’s educational calendar was the return to Kinsale for the ITS Spring Meeting in March. Thanks to Dr Michael Henry and colleagues in Cork for hosting a highly informative and stimulating educational and social programme. In addition, the ITS was delighted to once again offer educational bursaries to the ATS (supported by A Menarini) and to the ERS and BTS (supported by GSK).
The Irish Thoracic Society continued to advocate for the highest standards of care and equality of access to diagnostic and treatment services for patients with respiratory illness through engagement with a broad range of stakeholders. A key mission for 2023 was support of the National Clinical Programme Respiratory in the development of Integrated Care Services. This included participation in the Collaborative Webinar which took place on World Lung Day on the 25th September and facilitating opportunities to share information. In addition, the ITS marked World Lung Day with a media campaign to highlight the importance of lung health, in particular highlighting the risk posed by e-cigarettes to the health of young people. This was also of central concern for the ITS Tobacco Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Luke Clancy and a submission was made from this group on behalf of the ITS to the government’s public consultation on the proposal to ban disposable e-cigarettes.
The ITS recognises the importance of air quality in maintaining lung health. We were pleased to be a partner in the FAIR project – the fun accessible air quality information resource – in collaboration with Children’s Health Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency, Irish Doctors for the Environment, the Spark Innovation Fund, EU Life Programme, the Life Emerald Project, the Health Service Executive and Asthma Ireland. In September the ITS sought support from Irish MEPs for the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive. This was subsequently passed, with some amendments, and all Irish MEPs confirmed they were in support.
The ITS ILD Committee continued to work with the HSE and the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association towards the establishment of a clinical care pathway and programme for ILD.
The Society was dismayed to learn in August that the role of National TB Controller, announced one year ago after many years of campaigning, has been suspended. The ITS will continue to call for a reversal of this disappointing and baffling decision.
To coincide with the renewal of home oxygen contracts, the ITS co-ordinated engagement with the HSE to facilitate stakeholder input into oxygen services. This included development of two surveys in collaboration with colleagues and patient organisations seeking the views of ITS members and patients conducted in October 2023 to help inform this work.
The ITS is a Member of Irish Donors Network supporting a soft opt out organ donation consent system as part of the Human Tissue Bill which is currently making its way through the legislative process.
The ITS was delighted to launch a call under the Health Research Board Health Research Charities Ireland Joint Funding Scheme 2023/2024 with thanks to unrestricted support from GSK.
As membership of the ITS continues to grow alongside the expansion of the respiratory healthcare sector the Society’s offering to members is also undergoing continuous development and refinement. In addition to the broad range of activities that the Society undertakes on behalf of its members – benefits such as access to information, educational and research opportunities and discounted membership to the ERS provide support and value. The latter reinforces the long-standing and mutually beneficial collaboration between the two Societies in the areas of respiratory education, science, advocacy and leadership. We look forward to consolidating these ties further over the coming two years in support of Professor Silke Ryan’s leadership of the ERS as President Elect and President. The ITS has also been working to strengthen ties with our Northern Ireland colleagues. We are looking forward to returning to Northern Ireland for the 2024 Annual Scientific Meeting and we are also delighted to announce plans for a joint meeting with the British and Ulster Thoracic Societies in Spring 2025.
A very special feature of this year’s meeting will take place as part of the Gala Dinner on Friday evening when it will be a great honour to present the Irish Thoracic Society Award for Outstanding Contribution to Respiratory Medicine to a very deserving and highly respected recipient who has contributed greatly to Respiratory Medicine in Ireland and beyond over a long career.
The success of all these initiatives is only possible thanks to the support of members, partner organisations and our partners from the pharmaceutical and medical devices sectors. This support is hugely appreciated and we look forward to continued collaboration in 2024 and beyond.
Dr Marcus Butler
President, the Irish Thoracic Society