The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) opens the doors on its new state-of-the-art clinical skills unit on March 18, 2009. The unit, which will be opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, marks the second phase of the College’s Eagle Project which will provide the UK with one of the most advanced surgical teaching facilities in the World.
The new facilities include a keyhole surgery unit teaching the latest techniques and a unit where the entire range of simulation techniques will be taught, from simple plastic models on which trainees can practice stitching to a complete state of the art simulated operating theatre suite. Only this week the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Liam Donaldson, highlighted that surgeons who have trained on simulators are twice as fast and twice as accurate as those who have not.
Uniquely, the benefit of simulation can now be extended to other vital members of the surgical team, including anesthetists, radiologists, physicians, cardiologists and theatre nurses. The team participate together in operating theatre emergency scenarios, ensuring they are better equipped to deal with similar incidents when they occur hospital operating theatres.
The theatre consists of a virtual operating theatre and an adjacent control room, separated by one way mirrors. Critical incidents and major disaster scenarios, such as road traffic accidents and life-threatening anesthetic or surgical complications can be set up while experts observe and provide feedback to the theatre team. The operations and interaction between the surgical team and tutors are recorded and later analysed at debriefing sessions.
Speaking ahead of the opening, College President, John Black said:
The skills centre will change the way surgical training is delivered in the UK. Traditionally, measuring performance in the operating theatre has concentrated on the surgeons alone. While technical ability and dexterity are critical to the success of operations so too are team-working, communication skills and leadership qualities. We have learned from other highly skilled industries, including the airline industry, that many errors are due to human factors and this is also true in surgery. We have, therefore, responded by placing greater emphasis on training the whole surgical team.
Mike Larvin, Director of Education at the College said:
“The facility will bring enormous benefits to surgical patients. Patients depend upon surgeons not only to perform their operation safely, but also to have the skills to lead their teams during complex and highly pressurised situations. Advances in technology, increasing specialisation and significantly reduced hospital training hours due to the implementation of the European Working Time Directive all highlight importance of good training. Last year alone the College trained over 9,000 surgeons throughout the UK and over 2,500 on site. The new skills will be able to provide training for a far greater number than previously, under expert guidance, using the best equipment ensuring they leave here highly skilled, experienced and safe.
The college relies heavily on charitable donations and we are grateful to all those individuals and organisations who have made this development possible.
Notes to Editors
- The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808. For more information please visit www.rcseng.ac.uk.
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