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Improving Surgical Training (IST)

Improving Surgical Training ProspectusThe Royal College of Surgeons is working with Health Education England (HEE) to pilot new competence-based, run through surgical training programmes in a number of surgical specialties. The pilot trials improvements in the quality of training, a better balance between service and training for trainees, and professionalisation of the role of the surgical trainers. It also seeks to develop members of the team from other professional backgrounds to work alongside surgical trainees to improve patient care.

Our Improving Surgical Training Prospectus provides you with further details on how the pilot will work.

The pilot implements many of the changes recommended in the RCS’s Improving Surgical Training report, which was produced in October 2015 with funding from HEE following the independent Shape of Training Review. The IST report found strong evidence-based arguments that surgical training would be improved by:

  • providing trainees with a better balance between training and service delivery;
  • building cross-specialty and cross-professional competencies;
  • improving the quality of training posts by enhancing the role of trainers to enable them to dedicate more time to deliver training;
  • adapting different rota designs to allow surgeons to train more during daytime hours;
  • developing surgical skills earlier through focused training opportunities, simulation etc. so that time is not wasted, particularly in the early years of surgical training;
  • training and developing a workforce from other professions (the wider surgical team) to support trainees to help deliver better patient care and free up their time for more training.

The pilot training programme for general surgery commenced in August 2018, and the pilot will expand to include urology and vascular surgery from 2019, with plans underway to add trauma and orthopaedic surgery from 2020. Read our press release on the pilot expansion.

See the list of pilot sites and use our interactive map to find a site near you.

Our vision for improving emergency surgery is supported by the recent Nuffield Trust report Emergency General Surgery: Challenges and Opportunities, commissioned by the College, that proposed a number of solutions including:

  • new training models to support new ways of working;
  • the introduction of managed clinical networks;
  • the increased use of protocols and pathways;
  • the development of non-medical roles.

Find out how to apply.


More information about IST 

Read the RCS position statement for an overview of the pilot to improve training in general surgery.

The deadline for 2019 Pilot Site Applications is 16 September 2018. More information can be found on the How to Apply page.

For more information, please see our FAQs

For any other queries please contact the IST Project Team on 020 7869 6010 or  

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