|Widening the discussion|
In October 2010, Office Bearers and Council members met with trainee representatives from the surgical specialties, including ASiT and BOTA
The main purpose was to discuss key issues of concern to trainees and to provide Council with the opportunity to share their current thinking around future trainee representation within the College.
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, a major area of concern for trainees is workforce planning and the imbalance between the availability of training posts and potential applicants and the shortage of career posts available once they have achieved their Certificate of Completion of Training. This problem was highlighted by the President in the previous issue of Surgeons’ News: there is no simple answer to this UK-wide problem but discussions between the Centre for Workforce Intelligence and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges are ongoing. The College is participating in these discussions and has stressed the need for a UK-wide solution.
"These meetings have reinforced that we are all working to solve many of the same issues and that there is benefit to doing so in partnership with each other"
The discussion with trainees was wide-ranging and all agreed that this pre-ST3 bulge looked remarkably similar to the ‘lost tribe’ described for senior house officers in the pre-MMC era, a problem which run-through training was designed to solve and which now seems set to be abandoned. It also seems obvious that any attempts to address the problem will involve thinking around service redesign and delivery.
The European Working Time Regulation also featured in discussions, with the College presenting the lead it had taken in investigating alternative approaches to training within a 48-hour envelope. Again it was acknowledged that there is no quick solution but that most options would require the workforce to examine ways to change the emphasis of training so that the time available is used efficiently and to best effect for the trainee.
Finally, but importantly for the College and the trainee representatives, was the issue of communication with, and the views of trainees being heard by, College Council. Our Honorary Secretary reports on this elsewhere in this issue so, here, the College would again confirm its commitment to ensuring the voice of the trainees is heard on Council and through the work of the College’s specialty groups. Overall, the proposal to have a trainee elected to Council by their peer group met with support and enthusiasm, as was the suggestion to hold regular meetings with wider representation in the future.
In November, Council and Office-Bearers had meetings with College Surgical Specialty Group Chairs and Regional Surgical Advisers (RSAs). The focus was on getting a better understanding of the challenges faced by the specialties and their intended direction of travel and to share good ideas and practices across the network of RSA, all of which are relevant to the newly-adopted College strategic priorities. The meetings stimulated a lot of debate with topics such as support for revalidation and remediation, local engagement and member support, and partnerships featuring heavily. Within the specialties, there were a number of common themes including CPD, Working Time Regulations, emergency care, subspecialisation and training, many of which led further impetus to the need for service redesign. Specialties are also grappling with specific workforce issues such as consultant delivered services, gender issues and flexible working, and service provision.
Again, there was positive feedback from the various meetings and strong support for having such integrated engagement on a regular basis.
These recent meetings with trainees, Surgical Specialty Groups and RSAs have reinforced again that we are all working to solve many of the same issues and that there is benefit to doing so in partnership with each other. There are other related issues, which we intend to take forward with others and which will be the subject of an update in the next issue.