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Home › News › RCS statement on the government response to the Tooke Report

RCS statement on the government response to the Tooke Report

28 February 2008

The Royal College of Surgeons of England acknowledges the Department of Health’s prompt and substantial response to the Tooke Report. However, the commitment to many recommendations in the report is qualified and there is a lack of any commitment to many others. It is also disappointing that those recommendations the DH offer to support have no timetable for implementation. The problems that led to Sir John’s inquiry are fundamental and ongoing and the need for early solutions is paramount.

We welcome the acknowledgement that any policy DH introduce should be evidence-based and we will continue to provide them with detailed evidence as we have done throughout the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) process and continue to do on all areas related to surgery.

We urge extreme caution in the continued use of computer-based systems and machine marking for selection in view of the catastrophic failure of MTAS.

The college also supports the measures put in place to rescue those trainees who have been caught up in MTAS, but the numbers of training places and extra posts is paltry.  Surgical trainees this year are facing competition ratios far in excess of ten to one which means that many of those who would have gone on to specialist training in previous years now face the untimely end of their surgical careers, a huge loss to the NHS. This College has warned successive Secretaries of State about the scale of the problem and this is too little, too late.

We believe the detailed plan of action laid out in the Tooke Report recommendations demanded an equally complete response from government followed by real change. In deferring some of the most important decisions we are concerned that momentum will be lost and that this opportunity to drive the vital changes needed to ensure high standards in medical education may be squandered.  We welcome the commitment to NHS: MEE, but are disappointed that there is no definitive date by which this body will be established.

We are pleased with the acceptance that PMETB will become part of the GMC.  We will continue in the interim to work with PMETB, despite this organisation’s clear and continuing deficiencies, to attempt to make sure that their decision making best serves the interests of all surgical patients. However, it is disappointing that no opportunity can apparently be found to carry out this badly needed reform until 2010.


Notes to Editors

1.    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

2.    If you have any queries please contact:

Matthew Worrall – Email:; T: 020 7869 6047

Elaine Towell – Email:; T: 020 7869 6045

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