Prof. Dr. Christiane J. Bruns, DGCH President 2023/2024
The world is sinking deeper into a state of political unrest. In light of recent and current events, the core values of western democratic countries, such as peace, freedom and the health and well-being of every individual, are now endangered and can no longer be taken for granted.
The end of the coronavirus pandemic, which had shaken the entire world since 2019, was immediately followed by Russia’s war of aggression in neighbouring Ukraine in 2022, shattering over 70 years of peace in Europe and bringing terrible suffering to those affected. Even if only a few of us are directly exposed to the war in Ukraine, those faced with the military conflict and its consequences are very much still in our thoughts after more than a year of fighting…
On behalf of the German Society of Surgery, I would like to continue to pledge our full solidarity and support to Ukraine wherever possible in the coming year.
In February of this year, the world was shaken by the unforeseeable aftermath of yet another humanitarian disaster when a severe earthquake in Turkey and Syria claimed the lives of over 50,000 people. Some of the rescue and relief operations were delayed and had to be carried out under the most difficult of circumstances.
We are starting to feel the effects of environmental and natural disasters, such as the major floods in the Ahr Valley in Germany. As the great powers continue to wage international economic wars, we are also faced with various financial crises that are creating a general sense of insecurity and breaking our trust in the values of a democratic society.
As a result, any systemic change in our own environment, no matter how necessary and important it may be from a rational perspective, is viewed somewhat critically and with great concern with regard to possible restrictions in our personal and professional lives.
As we look back on 152 years of engagement within the German Society of Surgery and turn our attention to current events, it is all the more important to reflect on what distinguishes the DGCH and how our members are jointly responsible for the world we live in. In addition to ensuring consistency, reliability, transparency and humanitarian care in various catastrophic situations, we are responsible for respecting the basic trust placed in our society and our actions, especially by patients, their relatives and junior surgeons.
We must work together to ensure that the values created through science and research are not lost and spread awareness of these disciplines as key drivers of progress.
From 23 to 26 April 2024, the 141st Congress of the German Society of Surgery will take place as planned at Leipzig Congress Centre.
The theme of the DCK 2024 is “courage to change – help shape the future”. On the one hand, our aim is to work together to responsibly shape the future strategies of the German Society of Surgery in line with current health policies. On the other hand, we would like to convey the fact that together we can and must show the courage to drive urgently needed changes in the German healthcare system in a powerful and positive manner. After all, we only have a chance of improving the system if we jointly support changes in terms of content.
The future of surgery in Germany will be shaped by major healthcare projects such as the hospital system reform with the formation of centres and minimum quantities, an increasing amount of outpatient care with various organisational and structural issues, and the long overdue project of nationwide digitalisation in the ongoing struggle with data protection.
In the face of these mammoth tasks, we can’t afford to forget further education and training, as well as the general scientific and clinical education of our future generations. We can counteract this and ensure a consistently high level of surgical care for patients throughout Germany by establishing smart and innovative cooperation structures both within and between different regions, which we are helping to shape in terms of content. The increasing diversity of our population should also be seen as an opportunity in surgery.
In the future, all surgical fields and many related interventional disciplines will be increasingly supported by state-of-the-art technologies, artificial intelligence and computer vision. However, we will only succeed by involving the younger generation in the research and development of these technologies in cooperation with our industrial partners.
In terms of content, all aspects of surgery will clearly develop towards the concept of personalised medicine, which could result in a greater range of surgical indications for specific patients. However, a basic understanding of the biology of diseases and an empathetic understanding of patients and their relatives will remain decisive in all surgical fields.
Over the past three years, the coronavirus pandemic has inevitably retrained all of us in the way we communicate with one another. We have learned to accept – and perhaps even appreciate – online formats for exchanging knowledge and information. The pandemic has indeed given digitalisation a boost in many walks of life, and our conferences have made the shift from fully virtual to various hybrid formats.
Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that it is also important to share ideas in a very personal setting away from virtual communication platforms. With that in mind, we will be hosting a face-to-face congress with individual hybrid elements in 2024, but we will also keep the virtual pre-congress the week before, not least to offer our committed junior surgeons and colleagues abroad as much flexibility as possible by allowing them to participate in virtual sessions. If you ask our junior surgeons, they will tell you that a flexible congress format was long overdue and is also sustainable.
In addition to the German Society of Surgery, the German Society of General and Visceral Surgery (DGAV) and the German Society of Paediatric Surgery have traditionally held their annual meetings during our congress. Furthermore, the German Society of Vascular Surgery and Vascular Medicine (DGG), the German Society of Thoracic Surgery (DGT) and, once again, the German Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery (DGPRÄC), will hold their respective spring conferences at our joint congress. The other members of the DGCH, which hold their own annual meetings outside of the German Surgeons’ Congress, will again play an active role in shaping the agenda for next year’s event.
The Professional Association of German Surgeons (BDC), the German Nurses Association and the emergency services will also add their own items to the agenda.
Despite the high degree of specialisation associated with the joint Congress of the German Society of Surgery, one of the most appealing aspects for all our member societies in 2024 is the opportunity to help shape and develop a range of interdisciplinary sessions with partner disciplines such as anaesthesia and intensive care medicine, internal medicine and pathology, and to hold joint discussions on major health policy issues. Some of the topics that interest us all include perioperative medicine, intensive care and emergency medicine, our very own surgical research and HR issues such as minimum staffing levels and working conditions for young professionals, which we will have to discuss with our professional association. These kind of issues that concern us all must be presented and represented more in the outside world to raise awareness.
Various large-scale healthcare projects such as the nationwide implementation of the hospital system reform with uniform levels of care and defined structural specifications, the increasing amount of outpatient care and the implementation of a multi-dimensional remuneration scheme are major issues that concern us all – in every sense of the word – and can be further discussed at the DCK 2024.
The DCK is the ideal networking platform for junior surgeons, not only with a view to establishing collaborative research projects and multi-centre German studies, but also to create a fundamental basis for team-oriented, modern patient care in everyday clinical practice.
I would like to highlight our intensive cooperation with the German Armed Forces, which have regularly participated in the DCK over the years. In view of the devastating developments in Ukraine, our cooperation is of particular importance for our common discipline of surgery. The participation of the German Armed Forces in the DCK 2024 underlines the fact that the German Armed Forces are a crucial part of our public society.
The organ donation run is one of the traditional highlights of the DCK. The virtual format, which was established in response to the pandemic, now has much more participants than the actual run on site. This event has fortunately developed into a defining feature of the DGCH over the past few years and effectively raises awareness of organ donations among the general public.
Once again, the DGCH Careers Forum is organising its own day with various sessions aimed at students to provide them with sharp, focused insights into the multi-faceted discipline of surgery. This event has been well received in recent years, providing participants with valuable experience for their future professional development.
The guest nation at the 141st Congress of the German Society of Surgery 2024 will be the United States of America. We are expecting a partner delegation from the American College of Surgeons. They will participate in our international sessions on surgical issues and health policy topics in comparison to Germany and Europe.
Finally, on behalf of the presidents of all specialist member societies within the German Society of Surgery, I would like to invite you all to the 141stCongress of the German Society of Surgery, which is due to take place at Leipzig Congress Centre from 23 to 26 April 2024. In the run-up to the congress, we will also be holding our online “DCK.digital” event from 16 to 18 April 2024.
I look forward to personally welcoming you to Leipzig together with my team and the presidents of the DGCH member societies.
Prof. Christiane J. Bruns
DGCH President, 2023/24
16. – 18. April 2024, DCK.digital
24. – 26. April 2024, Congress Center Leipzig
CCL – Congress Center Leipzig
Seehausener Allee 1
Prof. Dr. Christiane J. Bruns
Direktorin der Klinik und Poliklinik für Allgemein-, Viszeral-, Tumor- und Transplantationschirurgie Universitätsklinikum Köln (AöR)
Tel. +49(0) 221 478 48 00
Fax +49(0) 221 478 48 43