Report from the Irish Gerontological Society Scientific Meeting 2018 – ‘Transforming Ageing across Borders’

Dr Mark Vignesha Roberts is a Consultant in Acute and Geriatric Medicine and Chair of BGS Northern Ireland. His interests and postgraduate training include public health as well as quality improvement methods to improve the consistency and quality of health care. He tweets @markvignesha

Autumnal scenes and sunshine welcomed delegates to the 66th Irish Gerontological Society’s (IGS) Annual Scientific Meeting at the beautiful - if labyrinthine - Slieve Russell Hotel and County Club in County Cavan in late September 2018.  The British Geriatric Society’s Northern Ireland (BGS NI) branch was delighted to respond to IGS’s invite and support this event as a partner given the theme was ‘Transforming Ageing across Borders’.

A great variety of Keynote Speakers were available from presenting the successes and challenges of matters of direct clinical relevance such as the National Irish Hip Fracture database to an Economist’s view on the implications of Brexit for Ireland’s health system and patients and clients North and South of the Irish Border (clue- no one is sure!).

The warmth of the welcome extended to Northern Ireland colleagues by our Southern Irish counterparts was clearly felt and evidenced by the largest NI contingent at this meeting in recent memory.  The theme of collaboration and friendship was very evident, as indeed the realisation that – irrespective of the pros and cons of our political dynamics- people’s needs at staff and user level are indivisible north and south of the border.

Impressive data was presented at the evening Stroke Symposium where an ‘All Island’ approach to Thrombectomy and Clot retrieval services appears self-evident but not easily delivered given the human, financial and political challenges ahead.  However the concept of the island having three Tertiary level Stroke Centres (Belfast, Dublin and Cork) serving an all island approach appeared persuasively put.  The challenge is supporting and developing community and local services and expertise to enable early repatriation to maximise recovery.

Moderated Poster and Speaker sessions gave delegates and presenters the opportunity to mix, engage and learn from each other in a professional, relaxed and multidisciplinary way.  At the BGS NI Business meeting, BGS members strongly voiced their support for future collaboration and friendship and with our national BGS’s support this is an avenue I am keen to explore further with the Irish Gerontological Society President Dr Diarmuid O’Shea.  The theme of collaboration across borders was in good health at the IGS Dinner and we hope for many more opportunities to link our two Societies in the spirit of friendship, learning and collaboration to support health and health service provision for older people North and South of the border.

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