11 January 2017
Dear College Presidents,
The Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) are thankful for the letter from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to the Prime Minister today regarding the current situation in the NHS. The paucity of funding, the lack of inpatient capacity, the deteriorating quality of patient care and the loss of confidence in the truth of government statements are well documented in the national press. ASiT wishes to add to this list the damaging effect that working in such an environment is having on training. We urge the surgical Royal Colleges to take a strong stance to highlight to the Government the detrimental impact the current NHS crisis is having on surgical training.
Surgical trainees across the NHS continue to deliver the best possible care to their patients in these extremely difficult circumstances. However, the current environment does not facilitate surgical training as the emphasis has shifted from combining training with high quality service delivery, to maintaining basic service delivery at all costs.
Trainees across the NHS are reporting to us a loss of elective theatre lists and reduced access to emergency lists because they are required to support the crises in emergency departments and on under-staffed wards. ASiT have also been made aware of instances where trainees are being asked to cover both their own role and the role of a junior trainee as a consequence of long-standing rota gaps that remain unfilled. Leaving senior trainees to inappropriately cross-cover roles without adequate junior and administrative support is both unsafe for patients and hugely damaging for training.
Delivering care in the midst of this crisis is physically and emotionally challenging and this is impacting further on trainee morale, that remains at an absolute nadir following the recent contractual events. In the current environment there is a real risk of burn-out among surgical trainees. This would exacerbate the well documented current rota gaps and result in irrecoverably lost training opportunities that may impact on trainees’ annual appraisals.
Ultimately, this situation is unsafe for our patients and for our trainees. We urge the College Presidents to take a strong stance with the Government to ensure the safety of our patients and the preservation of your members’ surgical training,
Mr. Adam Williams,
President of The Association of Surgeons in Training on behalf of ASiT Council