The Travelling Surgical Society of Great Britain and Ireland

The Overseas meeting of the TSS hosted by Jim Rutka, RS McLaughlin Professor and Chair of the University Department of Surgery, took place on 3rd-12th June.  We started with a city tour and then a boat tour of the harbour followed by the President’s Reception Dinner in the 360 revolving restaurant up in the CN Tower 1,151 feet up, where the views were breathtaking.  Jim Rutka and his wife Mari were our guests.

Next day we visited St Lawrence Antiques Market, before an afternoon tour of the Distillery District that once housed the largest distillery in the world and, at one time, supplied the bootleg market during  American Prohibition.  On Monday members had an excellent academic session at Mount Sinai Hospital arranged by Zane Cohen, while partners visited the Bata shoe museum.  That evening we were guests of the Faculty of surgery at a reception and dinner.  The next day while members had another fascinating academic session at St Michael’s Hospital, hosted by Ori Rotstein, partners visited the Art Gallery of Ontario, known for its extensive collection of Henry Moore works. In the afternoon they visited the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics. That evening we enjoyed dinner at Canoe Restaurant on the 54th floor of the Financial District’s TD Bank Tower, where there more stunning views over the city and harbour.  On the Wednesday the academic sessions were at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, part of the University Health Network, hosted by Allan Okrainec.  Partners visited Casa Lomo, a Castle built in Toronto city in the early 20th Century. Next day was a trip to Niagara, mercifully the weather was superb.  After a boat trip up to the base of the falls we viewed the Niagara river above the falls and then took lunch at Trius winery before visiting Niagara-on-the -Lake.  On the last full day we visited the Royal Ontario Museum and later visited St. Lawrence Old Town for a tour of its famous food market. That evening we had our Society Dinner.  Several of our hosts joined us (see photo).  Members all wore The Department of Surgery, University tie that had been presented to us by Jim Rutka. On the final morning we visited Fort York, a former British stronghold and garrison.

For a brief account of the meeting Click here

Members, Partners and Hosts at the Society Dinner 10th June 2016 Toronto Hosts Zane Cohen, James Rutka and Allan Okrainec are seated 4th, 6th and 8th from the left

Members, Partners and Hosts at the Society Dinner 10th June 2016 Toronto
Hosts Zane Cohen, James Rutka and Ori Rotstein are seated 4th, 6th and 8th from the left

Click image to enlarge     

The 2016 Home meeting took place at St George’s London.  A report is at the foot of the page of Home meetings

In April 2016 we learnt of the death of Adrian Marston, former Vascular Surgeon at The Middlesex Hospital, London. Jeffrey Adrian Preistley Marston was a true polymath and a great linguist.  He served as Honorary Secretary to the Society from 1971-1975.  A full obituary can be found here.  Further details of a celebration of his life will be posted in due course.

In May 2015 we recorded the death at the age of 87 of Alan Green, our Archivist and committed chronicler of the history of the TSS which he supported enthusiastically since he and Doreen joined what was then the Travelling Surgical Club in 1970.  He was President from 1988-1991 and was renowned for giving his speeches in the language of the host country. His knowledge of our Society’s history and activities was legendary.  He died in Norfolk on 4th May 2015 whilst the TSS was on one of its annual foreign visits, this time to Madrid.  For a full obituary click here.  His wife Doreen died in March 2016.  A service of celebration of her life was held in Norwich Cathedral on Tuesday 19th April.

During 2015 we also heard of the death of another senior TSS member Randolph Beard; his obituary can be seen here.

The Travelling Surgical Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a group of surgeons from around the United Kingdom which travels to various hospitals and surgical departments around the world and in the UK. These are academic and clinical meetings and the purpose is to encourage educational and surgical exchanges.

In 1924 Sir Berkeley (later Lord) Moynihan held a clinical meeting in Leeds for twelve British surgeons whom he then entertained to dinner. From these roots evolved the present-day Travelling Surgical Society (TSS).

The current membership consists of about fifty surgeons of whom thirty are in active practice. The society has always maintained strong links to military surgery.

Seven of the active members are Professors of Surgery, demonstrating that we place great emphasis on academic content in our meetings. We offer two travelling fellowships each year.

In recent years members have held distinguished honours (two knights and a baron) as well as Presidencies and other leading roles with surgical Royal Colleges.

Recent membership has also boasted some unusual accolades, including an Honored Member of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, a Lambeth Doctorate of Medicine (awarded by the Archbishop of Canterbury), a Kentucky Colonel, and a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite. Our current membership even includes a Minister of Health to the last UK government.

Price Thomas Travelling Fellowship 2015

The 2015 Fellowship was awarded to Professor Nawwar Al-Attar from the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Clydebank, Glasgow.  He travelled with us to Madrid in May and gave two excellent academic papers.

Price Thomas Travelling Fellowship 2016

The number and quality of applications for the bursary this year has been outstanding.  The judging panel, chaired by the President, deliberated hard and concluded that we should appoint two travelling fellows this year.  They will travel with us to Canada and will present two papers each at our academic session in Toronto.  They are:

Mr Joseph Hardwicke.  Lecturer in Burns and Plastic Surgery at University Hopsitals Birmingham and

Mr Prasanna Sooriakumaran. Senior Research Fellow in Robotics & Urology and Consultant Urological Surgeon at the University of Oxford

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth"

Mark Twain

"When men of sober age travel, they gather knowledge which they may apply usefully in their country" 

Thomas Jefferson

"In our age such great usefulness redounds to the physician from his travels that none puts much faith in the authority of the physician who has not set foot outside his native land, and, although each may have at home in abundance those things which are necessary for medical instruction, nevertheless they ought to be strengthened or increased by a comparison with things abroad.

There is a vast delight and pleasure in gazing upon foreign lands and fields, mountains and rivers, observing the benignity of Nature's variety everywhere, the different conditions of the sick in homes and in hospitals with their great number of beds, which can readily be seen here and there, examining the methods for treating the patients, enjoying the conversation of the learned men, and calling forth their experiences, and visiting the laboratories, the furnaces of the chemists, the pharmacies and the unguent shops."

Thomas Bartholin, Danish anatomist (1616 -1680) on medical travel