On taking up the Presidency in 2012, one of my priorities
was revamping the Surgical Training Pathway in Ireland. The
Department of Surgical Affairs had been exploring how to improve
the Basic Surgical Training (BST) years but, as surgical trainees were
more quickly identifying the specialty of their choice, the frequent
criticism was that the second year of BST was a waste of time.
Therefore, we decided on radical change reducing BST to two
years, eliminating gap years and making Higher Surgical Training
From July to December 2012, the Department of Surgical Affairs,
represented by Eunan Friel, Kieran Tangney and Professor Oscar
Traynor, engaged with all specialties. Their findings were funnelled
into the BST Committee and the ISPTC, and a pan-specialty
agreement was reached.While there was some nervousness about
proceeding, it was felt there was little to be gained by waiting.
We advertised the new programme for BST intake in July 2013. Of
180 applicants for the jobs, 95 were shortlisted and 40 applicants
were successful. There were 18 successful appointees from last year
who deferred their commencement and, therefore, even though
the programme is changing, they were accommodated in the new
pathway. In 2014, 55 positions will be available.
Under a hybrid programme, operated for the intake since July 2013,
ST1 resembles the traditional six months in General Surgery and six
months in Trauma & Orthopaedics. In 2014, a successful applicant
will indicate which specialty he/she wishes to pursue and will move
directly into it in ST2. Work to develop assessment methodologies
for the ST1 and ST2 trainees continues, as these assessments will
determine progress to the specialties of their choice into ST3.
Where no slot is available in a chosen specialty, the successful
trainee will have a second option. As far as possible, trainees will be
accommodated in specialties of their interest or, failing that, jobs
relevant to such specialties.
Such radical change has caused concern among current BST trainees
and those in gap years who have already embarked on research.
A recent series of information emails and discussion evenings
provided reassurance for many young surgical trainees in these
groups and this process continues.
I am grateful to the surgeons and administrative personnel who
have worked exceptionally hard to get us to this stage so quickly. I
look forward to a significant commitment from surgical trainers to
ensure the quality of training of new and current trainees will be
maintained and enhanced.
Some months ago, Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, requested
that Professor John Higgins from University College Cork chair a
group exploring the development of hospital networks in Ireland
and, in May, the Minister officially launched the new reconfiguration
the PresiDent writes...
An updAte from professor pAtriCk Broe