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RCS England appoints new Director for Northern Ireland

31 Aug 2023

The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) has appointed consultant thoracic surgeon Mr Niall McGonigle as its new Northern Ireland Director.

The Northern Ireland-born surgeon trained and qualified at Queen’s University of Belfast in 1999 and took up his first Consultant post as a thoracic surgeon in London’s Harefield Hospital in 2011, becoming lead thoracic surgeon and Chair for Cancer Services within two years.

He has a special interest in lung cancer, mediastinal tumours, pectus deformity and hyperhidrosis.

In 2017, he returned to his native Belfast and took on roles such as Chair of the Lung Cancer Clinical Reference Group with the Northern Ireland Cancer Network (NICaN) and Lead for Thoracic Surgery at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT).

He is currently Training Programme Director (TPD) for Core Surgery and Deputy Head of School for Surgery at the Northern Ireland Medical and Training Dental Agency (NIMTDA). He works with various charities, including Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, and is a member of the Clinical Expert Panel for Mesothelioma UK.

As RCS England’s new Director for Northern Ireland, Niall McGonigle said he wanted to focus his tenure on boosting the workforce, promoting equitable surgical training, and increasing access to surgery.

“The scale of NI’s waiting lists is truly significant, and I am determined to drive forward the college’s core message in advocating for greater surgical activity for patients. We know the pandemic wreaked havoc on health systems worldwide, and Northern Ireland is no different.

"We need to champion more chances for surgeons to operate in a protected environment like surgical hubs and a refreshed strategy that addresses the deep challenges in our medical and nursing workforce.”

As Deputy Head of the School of Surgery at NIMTDA, Niall McGonigle said he was deeply troubled by the difficulties reported by young surgeons in training, gaining the required relevant operating time.

“The workforce issue in surgery is never an easy fix. It can take over 15 years to qualify as a consultant or to reach the stage where you have gained the equivalent experience. We need to stop our later-stage career surgeons from leaving early, and we must boost numbers amongst the younger cohort because if we won’t have enough surgeons to cover patient demands in the future, our health service will be in trouble.

“We must build on the principles of changed working routines and support more of our colleagues to work flexibly, particularly those with care responsibilities. As College Director, I want to focus on our assets, which is our people, and highlight the need to use their skills in more efficient ways to fully utilise resources to benefit patients.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) provides world-class education, assessment and development to 30,000 surgeons, dental professionals and members of the wider surgical and dental care teams, at all stages of their career. Our vision is to see excellent surgical care for everyone. We do this by setting professional standards, facilitating research and championing the best outcomes for patients.
  2. A Professional Board of over 20 surgeons represents RCS England in Northern Ireland. They reflect the specialty areas of neurosurgery, ENT, paediatrics, general surgery, trauma and orthopaedics, plastics, urology, vascular, cardiothoracic and OMFS.
  3. The Professional Board includes 10 elected regional specialty advisors, Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT), QUB & UU Medical School Surgical Society, NIMDTA Head of the School of Surgery, SAS doctors and an RCS England Council member.
  4. The purpose of the Board is to improve surgical outcomes for patients, advocate locally and support the dissemination of good practice and professional guidance.
  5. For more information, please contact the Press Office: Telephone: 020 7869 6052/6055 Email: Out-of-hours media enquiries: 0207 869 6056.

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