As gauged by the number of surgeons in practice in the specialty, general surgery is one of the two largest in the UK with 31% of the consultant surgical workforce.
During recent years and in common with many other disciplines there has been a trend towards further specialisation within the specialty. These are referred to as ‘Areas of Special Interest’ within general surgery as they do not have separate specialty advisory committees (SACs) within the Surgical Royal Colleges’ structure.
A shared syllabus and the ability at the completion of training to manage an unselected surgical emergency ‘take’, provide a common purpose across the specialty of general surgery at the time of writing (2007).
The major areas of special interest associated with the specialty of general surgery are as follows:
In addition to these clearly defined disease-based areas of special interest there are others that are less well developed within the syllabus but represent substantial areas of practice:
The variations in the scope of practices within the specialty are highly variable and largely shaped by local circumstances, the needs of the service, and the personal development of the surgeons delivering those services.
All general surgeons are expected to have developed an area of special interest by the time they gain their CCT and some will then go on to practice exclusively in that discipline either straight away or as their individual careers develop.
There is also significant shared (‘Interface’) practice with other major specialties such as the head and neck specialties, urology and specialist paediatric surgery.