When the laparoscopic revolution began in the UK in 1989 Colchester was one of a handful of hospitals that embraced the challenge that has completely altered abdominal surgery forever. Our first course on laparoscopic cholecystectomy was in 1992 and in the following years courses in laparoscopic bile duct exploration, groin and incisional hernia repair, anti-reflux surgery and colorectal surgery followed.
Our reputation for teaching and training grew over the following years attracting some of the best surgical trainees and fellows from the UK and abroad. The informal interactive style of teaching, the “Colchester way”, resulted in full courses further raising our profile as laparoscopic surgery became established as the preferred option for more and more conditions.
With the dawn of a new millennium Colchester was chosen to host the Association of Endoscopic (now Laparoscopic) Surgeons annual meeting, and did so again in 2008. The first purpose-built laparoscopic operating theatre in the UK was opened in 2005 and we established our identity as The ICENI Centre, but without a physical presence. Fortunately our activities in both teaching and research attracted the attention of Anglia Ruskin University, which resulted in a joint venture partnership to create a state of the art building for training, research and development. The new building was formally opened by the then Minister of Health, the Rt. Hon Andrew Lansley, in 2011.
With our new facilities comprising a lecture theatre linked to the operating theatres, seminar rooms, skills laboratory and a mock operating theatre we have been able to expand our courses into gynaecology, orthopaedics and urology. More recently new courses on patient safety and human factors have been developed to address the non-technical skills that are so important for surgical teams and our annual Controversies Conferences, on Hernia Surgery in the spring and Rectal Cancer in the autumn, are fixtures in the surgical calendar.
The year 2017 marked the Silver Jubilee of teaching laparoscopic surgery in Colchester-who knows what developments will have taken place by the time of our Golden Jubilee in 2042!
Roger W. Motson, MS, FRCS
Professor of Surgery
Director of the ICENI Centre