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Improving surgical training

We are working with the Royal College of Surgeons to pilot a new competence-based, run-through training programme in general surgery.

The Improving Surgical Training pilot will trial improvements in the quality of training, a better training-service balance for trainees, professionalise the role of the trainer, and look at developing other members of the team from other professional backgrounds to work alongside trainees to improve patient care.

The programme was commissioned following a review of surgical training which found high dissatisfaction rates among surgical trainees, that many were spending increasing amounts of their time on service provision, and not enough of their time on training. The General Medical Council’s annual trainee survey also consistently finds that surgical trainees are the least satisfied of all the medical specialties with their training.

The pilot represents an opportunity for trusts to develop an alternative workforce model, maximising productive training time and making use of the focused specialisms of members of the extended surgical team. It also provides the ideal occasion to develop the concept of the modern firm, announced by Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, whilst Health Secretary, involving the multi-disciplinary team within which junior doctors work, and who are best placed to provide the support they require in a positive and collaborative environment.

The pilots were launched in August 2018 in general surgery at over 30 different trusts across England, Scotland and Wales, with 80 surgical trainees taking part. From August 2019, trainees in urology and vascular surgery will also join the pilot. Applications for posts in all pilot specialties will open in November 2018, made through the Core surgery national selection process, via Oriel.

Rotas in the IST pilot will provide trainees with 60% elective daytime training activity. Each trainee will also have a minimum of one hour per week to receive feedback from their trainer and reflect on their work. Enhanced training for IST trainers has been developed and delivered by the RCS via dedicated two-day boot camps.

Professor Wendy Reid, Executive Director of Education and Quality and Medical Director, Health Education England, said:

“Improving Surgical Training provides an exciting opportunity to enhance training in general surgery – and, in due course, training in other surgical specialties - to help improve patient care.”

Further information can be found on the College's website


IST Trainee focus group - 1 October 2020

As part of our work to evaluate and improve Improving Surgical Training, we are especially keen to hear the experiences, views and ideas of doctors who are in an IST training programme. To help us to facilitate this, we have organised a private focus group from 6.30pm to 7.30pm on Thursday 1 October, via MS Teams.  We can look to organise an additional date if this is not suitable for the majority.

The focus group will be attended by Dr Paul Sadler (Postgraduate Dean HEE Wessex and Senior Responsible Officer for IST), Miss Gillian Tierney (Head of School of Surgery HEE East Midlands), Mr Jon Lund (incoming JCST Chair), Dr Simon Fleming (Fellow), as well as colleagues HEE’s Medical Education Reform Programme, which works with partners to co-ordinate Improving Surgical Training. We will also be joined by a representative from ASiT and BOTA have also been invited to join us if they can, as representatives of surgical trainees more widely and key partners in this work.

This focus group is designed as a safe space where you can tell us what has been good about your experience of IST, what has been less good and how we can improve things. We very much want this to be an open and honest forum and as such, will be run under Chatham House Rules.

This feedback will be invaluable to us in developing our offer to surgical trainees going forward, so that they have the best possible experience and are well equipped to serve their patients and have a rewarding career in surgery.

We would be grateful if you could let us know if you would like to join the webinar by registering via this link

Or please email merp@hee.nhs.uk to register. An outlook calendar invite including the link to the workshop will then follow after registration. If, in advance, you have any specific questions or points that you would like to discuss, please email these to us. Whilst this will be your forum, if there are any themes submitted in advance, this will help us to ensure that these are fully discussed.