The Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons was formed in April 1994 in Harrogate by the amalgamation of the Society of Minimally Invasive General Surgeons (SMIGS) and British Surgical Stapling Group (BSSG). Since that time the ALSGBI has established itself as the main voice for laparoscopic surgeons in the United Kingdom and Ireland, initially under the Presidency of Lord McColl and then Mr David Dunn. David's tragic death in office in 1998 is commemorated by the David Dunn Medal which is awarded to the presenter of the best paper at the Spring Meeting and the David Dunn Travelling Scholarship funded by Ethicon Endo Surgery for £4,000 to allow a British trainee or Consultant within five years of appointment to make a substantial visit to a unit abroad, to learn new skills in laparoscopic surgery with a view to introducing them to the UK.
The ALSGBI aims to foster developments in laparoscopic surgery, to provide a structure for training, to promote educational and academic objectives and to act as a liaison under the umbrella of the Association of Surgeons with the surgical Royal Colleges, the Specialist Advisory Committee and other surgical and academic bodies. It supports members in negotiations with Trusts, definitions of job plans and contracts and also the assessment of trainees and training posts with the Postgraduate Regional Deans.
Although surgeons may be members of other multidisciplinary groups, such as those dealing with upper and lower gastrointestinal disease, it is important that the specific education and training needs of the laparoscopic surgeon are recognised. ALSGBI firmly believes in the importance of high quality training programmes throughout the United Kingdom and this is a fundamental component of the Association's activities. Many surgical procedures in the laparoscopic field were initially developed by enthusiasts but have become part of the general surgical repertoire. It is therefore vitally important that all surgeons professing an interest in the performance of laparoscopic surgery should be trained to the highest possible standard. To this end the ALSGBI has been involved in the organisation and approval of laparoscopic training courses throughout the United Kingdom. In addition training courses are organised by the ALSGBI with the support of the commercial companies at leading training centres in Ireland, Germany and France. Surgeons wishing to develop their laparoscopic techniques and repertoire in their own hospital are supported in doing so by proctoring by members of the ALS.
The ALSGBI has gained representation on the Council of the Association of Surgeons and cross representation on the Association of Coloproctology, the Association of Upper GI Surgeons and the Association of Surgeons in Training. A representative on Council is a member of the General Surgical Specialist Advisory Committee and the Association has representation on the Councils of the Surgical Royal Colleges. The Association is affiliated to the European Association of Endoscopic Surgeons (EAES) and shares a journal, Surgical Endoscopy, with this Society and with the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons.