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Response to Sir John Tooke's final report

08 January 2008

NHS needs Director of Education, says RCS

The publication today of Sir John Tooke’s final report on medical training is warmly welcomed by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, who call on the Department of Health to appoint a Director of Education who can take overall responsibility for medical training.

Selection for specialty medical training needs to take account of two crucial factors. Firstly, it must give deaneries the information they need to select the most able candidates. Secondly, it must enable young doctors the best possible opportunity to choose a career path that fits their skills and interests. The Tooke review has found that recent reforms as part of Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) fail on both counts.

Bernard Ribeiro, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “It is in the interests of patients that trainees progress according to ability, with only the best entering specialty training.  Surgery has unique requirements in terms of recruitment and trainees must be able to demonstrate not only diagnostic skills and clinical judgment but also manual dexterity.”

Mr Ribeiro also welcomed the report’s endorsement of greater flexibility in run-through training: “Under MMC trainees are required to make specialty choices far too early in their career without having gained enough experience or the opportunity to experience ‘taster placements’ in other related specialties they may subsequently prefer.  The College strongly favours training which allows a greater freedom of movement between specialties.”

Bernard Ribeiro, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “This report must not be allowed to linger on Whitehall desks, its recommendations must be acted on immediately. The unified voice of the medical profession has overwhelmingly endorsed these recommendations and this cannot be ignored. It would be unforgivable if arrangements for specialty medical training were delayed or lost by being subsumed into wider-ranging reform proposals for the NHS. A director within the Department of Health holding overall responsibility for education and training of medical staff is vital to ensure consistency and restore the confidence of the profession.”

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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