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Faculty of Surgical Trainers Responds to Shape of Training Report

29 October 2013

The Faculty of Surgical Trainers - part of Britain’s oldest Royal Colleges, The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) - today showed broad support for the Shape of Training report, but expressed disappointment in the lack of detail needed for implementation.

Published by the Independent Review and sponsored by bodies such as the General Medical Council (GMC), the four-nation review considers what changes are needed to postgraduate medical training considering the needs of patients and health services in the future. Yet the RCSEd feels the report led by Professor David Greenaway lacks detail and pays only ‘lip service’ to patient safety.

According to Craig McIlhenny, Surgical Director of the Faculty of Surgical Trainers;

McIlhenny"The report shows a disappointing lack of explicit emphasis on measurable training competencies. Decreasing preventable problems is an imminent challenge facing surgeons today, and they need to be provided with the appropriate tools to tackle this. As a Faculty we support a move towards an objective, competency-based system as well as non-technical skills education that are the cornerstones of patient safety. We feel these specific aspects should have been stressed in a more detailed fashion within a document looking at the overall shape of training.”

It was the RCSEd which helped develop one of the internationally-adopted system for evaluating non-technical skills for surgeons (‘NOTSS’), an assessment tool for abilities such as teamwork and communication which are essential for patient safety. NOTSS is officially used in Australia, Japan, around Europe and this month was introduced at Washington D.C. to American surgical residency programmes.

 Mr. McIlhenny, who is a Consultant Urological Surgeon, adds;

"The recommendations also seem contradictory, stating ‘we agree that training must continue to be bound by time’, but then suggesting trainees should progress through training at their own rate. The Faculty will continue to stress the importance of robust education delivered by surgeons who have been specifically ‘trained to train’, rather than expecting trainees to simply absorb knowledge just by being apprenticed. Not all doctors should be trainers – only those who can, and are formally assessed, should teach!”


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