Public Release: 

'Troubles' surgeon to tell all in the United States

Queen's University Belfast

Belfast surgeon and Queen's University Professor Roy Spence is set to tell US medics about his experience of treating hundreds of victims of the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'.

Professor Spence in addressing several thousand US surgeons will reflect on his time working through 'The Troubles' and also reflecting on the latter years of more peaceful times.

He will deliver the prestigious I.S Ravdin Lecture in Washington on 7 October. This has never been offered to a surgeon in Ireland before. A surgeon for 35 years in Northern Ireland throughout most of the country's conflict, which came to be known as 'The Troubles', Professor Roy Spence, OBE, JP, MD, LLD (Hon), FRCS, (Edin, Irel), FRCS (End, Glas) (Hon), will reflect on his professional life during this time period when he presents Reflections of a Surgeon in Troubled Times.

From the late 1960s until 1998, when the Troubles ended with the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, more than 3,600 were killed and more than 47,500 were injured in 36,900 shootings and 16,200 bombings. Professor Spence will discuss how those incredibly tough circumstances brought advances to trauma practice in Northern Ireland.

Professor Roy Spence, said: "I will pay tribute to my colleagues in vascular surgery who used shunts in injuries to limb arteries and veins caused by gunshot wounds and, in particular, the unique injury knee-capping in Northern Ireland. I will recall the work of colleagues in neurosurgery who proposed early ventilation of patients with gunshot wounds of the head and the replacement of missing skull fragments, caused by bullets, with titanium plates."

In the second part of his lecture Professor Spence will discuss the changes to cancer services in Northern Ireland. He will discuss the Campbell re-organisation, the excellent data produced by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry at Queen's (Professor Spence is the Chairman of the Council of the Cancer Registry), the work of Cancer Focus (Professor Spence is Chairman of Cancer Focus) which raises £3 million per year for cancer research and to support services for cancer patients and their families. He will present the cancer data of the Registry showing significant improvement in cancer survival in Northern Ireland over the past 15 years.

Professor Spence will also pay tribute to the cancer research led by Professor Johnston, Dean of School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's University, who has been instrumental in the building of research centres at Queen's which led to the award to the University of the Queen's Anniversary Prize by Her Majesty the Queen in 2012.

Finally, Professor Spence will acknowledge the leadership shown by Senator Mitchell and President Clinton in the Peace Process and also to Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers, who as the Peace Process matures, have allowed Northern Ireland to attract bright clinicians and scientists from all over the world to work in Belfast to improve the outcome for all patients.


Media inquiries to Claire O'Callaghan, Queen's Communications Office. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 or email

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