President’s Report Dec 2010 Bob Baigrie

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to our new website! It is a project that we began after the election of your committee in July. Our term of office runs from August 2010 to August 2012 and I and the EXCO am grateful for the confidence shown in our election. I think you have an excellent EXCO and it is our intention to improve interaction between the membership and this Council. Laparoscopic surgery is part of everyday surgery now, and inevitably this trend will accelerate. This generates a steady flow of funder and provider issues requiring our input. In addition, there are academic meetings to organise and we have a busy agenda ahead.

Your EXCO was elected at our AGM at the recent Sandton SAGES/SASES Congress, expertly run by Eastern Sun Events. Damon Bizos was our LOC representative and we are grateful to our Past President (2006-08) for his excellent efforts to ensure a very worthwhile academic programme. The laparoscopic and endoscopic live workshop was a triumph and proceeded without a hitch. Reniel De Beer's report on the programme is on the website.

Your new EXCO is

President                     Bob Baigrie     (Cape Town)

Vice President             Danie Folscher (George)

Past President             Andre Potgieter (Cape Town)

Secretary                     Dick Brombacher (Pietermaritzburg)

Treasurer                     Etienne Swanepoel (Cape Town)

Members                     Damon Bizos (JHB)

                                    Reniel De Beer (Cape Town)

                                    Masee Naidoo (Durban)

                                    Eugenio Panieri (Cape Town)

Co-opted members      Stephen Grobelaar (Bloemfontein)

                                    Martin Brand (JHB)

                                    Heine Van der Walt (Pretoria)

The EXCO aims for a wide geographical representation, but this is dependent on candidates being proposed from other regions. For this reason we are grateful to our co-opted members who also fulfil this function. We have two full-time academics on the committee - Damon Bizos and Eugene Panieri, and several part-time surgeons who also contribute to their academic departments. Martin Brand is Chairman of SASSIT, The South African Society of Surgeons in Training. He writes elsewhere to introduce this excellent and dynamic new society.

Andre Potgieter is our immediate Past President, and the Society owes him a great debt. He has been a longstanding servant of SASES having joined at the inaugural meeting in Cape Town. He has been on Exco since 1999 and filled the post of Secretary until 2008, when he was elected our president.


The Society's annual eponymous or invited lecture is the Roche Lecture and this year Johann van Beljon was our speaker. He gave an engaging lecture on NOTES, pointing out the pitfalls, expense and limited benefits of this surgery. Nevertheless, it will have a role to play in the future of surgery and, already, more than 500 patients in Germany have had a transvaginal NOTES procedure.

Our invited International visitor was Professor Willem Bemelman from the Amsterdam Medical Centre in Holland. He is an established European laparoscopic expert and spoke to us on laparoscopic colorectal surgery as well as performing a challenging resection of a diverticular mass after draining of a chronic pelvic abscess. Willem is a longstanding personal friend of mine, and has expressed to me, in the most sincere terms, the pleasure and enjoyment he derived from this visit. He was overcome by the warmth of his SA welcome and has offered to return (at his own expense) for our meeting at Champagne Sports in October 2011.

Current projects for the year:

A complete relaunch of the website, so that it becomes a useful resource for members and is far more interactive and accessible. We have secured the addresses and for the society. You should be reading this letter from the new website, and we hope you are impressed! Martin Brand has been co-ordinating this project and we are very grateful to him for his enthusiasm and expertise.

We want to strengthen our membership numbers and improve communication with them. The website will be central to this.

We have two travelling fellowships now, Covidien/SASES and Karl Storz/SASES. These are extremely generous grants and open to all members. The Covidien/SASES application is on the website. The KS/SASES protocol is still being finalised and will be advertised as soon as it is clarified. The first recipient of the Covidien/SASES award was Masee Naidoo and Morne Nel has been awarded the first Karl Storz/SASES award. Some information about these are elsewhere on the website. 

The 2011 ICC Umbrella meeting is our first focus for 2011 and the LOC is hard at work. We expect a strong SASES representation at this exciting meeting. The European Hepato-Pancreatic-Biliary Association (EHPBA) are holding their biennial meeting with us and there is a star-studded cast of Internationals attending. In addition to these, our own SASES visitor will Be Prof Abe Fingerhut, a true laparoscopic "Great".

The 2011 Getaway Meeting will be the first independent meeting in the Society's history. SASES members have often wondered why we haven't had a "stand alone" meeting, dedicated solely to laparoscopic surgery. The reason has always been that there is no suitable slot in the annual calendar. However, 2011 is going to be different because the July/August meeting time is being moved to April at the CTICC, in order to accommodate the EHPBA meeting. This opens up the rest of the year for our own four day meeting. We have selected the weekend of the RWC Final in Auckland, 23 October, when the weather should be perfect at Champagne Sports Resort in the Drakensberg. This fantastic destination has styled itself as a first class conference centre to complement its superb location and hospitality. The final (Sunday) morning of the conference will be a RWC themed breakfast timed to coincide with the 10h00 kick-off (SA time) in Auckland.

The Trade has already committed to support us and we have enlisted the excellent Denise Kemp and Eastern Sun Events to organise the conference. The aim is to get all delegates (and their families, who are very welcome) to stay in the resort, either in the hotel or in timeshare apartments overlooking the spectacular golf course and the mountain view. We will therefore be a closed community with all entertainment on site, so that no travelling, buses or cars will be required during the meeting.

The academic programme will be very strong. We are completely committed to this and have already recruited a strong panel of international experts. These visitors are all old friends of our meetings and have a special affection for South Africa. They have all agreed to pay their own travel and waive any honorariums.

The Society has committed itself to keeping the costs to delegates as low as possible for this historic meeting. We are not aiming to make a large profit and, if necessary, are prepared to underwrite any losses in order to achieve our aim of excellent value for delegates. We would like to attract a strong contingent of surgical trainees. We have budgeted heavily to sponsor them, especially if they have an abstract accepted.

I will keep you up to date with developments but please put the dates 20-23 October in your 2011 diary.

Finally, The August ruling on the NRPL tariff by Judge Eberson has provided some breathing space for hard-pressed private practitioners. Our society has always supported SURGICOM and if anyone was sceptical of its value to surgeons, one hopes their doubts have now been banished. They have played a vital role in this process. By now you should have received the Surgicom newsletter interpreting Eberson's findings and describing the PPF's constructive but conciliatory way forward with the DoH. Their increased fee (R400 to R500) includes Tier C membership of Spesnet and represents a vital investment in the future by any private practitioner. We would exhort you to support them. Stephen Grobler is closely involved in Surgicom and is a co-opted member of our exco, ensuring that we stay informed.

Best wishes

Bob Baigrie

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