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COVID information hub 

Daily updates

Tuesday 13 October.
Following the introduction of the 3-tier local lockdown approach, RCS England would like to confirm that, under any tier, courses will continue to run. Restrictions are on social activities and do not affect educational activities.

Tuesday 6 October:
We have released key recommendations and findings of our investigation into the status of surgical resumption in the second wave. Read the report

Friday 2 October:
We have released recommendations and findings of our investigation into the current status of dental surgery under the pandemic. Read the report

Wednesday 23 September:
Following the Prime Minister's announcement last night, RCS England can confirm that courses are continuing to run as planned despite wider restrictions in other areas of life. The use of face coverings is now mandatory, at all times, on courses and social activities often associated with courses are discouraged and must adhere to the 'rule of six' if they do occur.

Friday 7 August:
The September 2020 DO-HNS Part 1 examination, due to be sat on 7 September, will be delivered remotely as an online assessment.

Friday 24 July:
Applications for the January 2021 sitting of MRCS Part A are now open, and available to sit online. 

Friday 17 July:
The 15 September 2020 MRCS part A exam will now be delivered as an online assessment. Read more

Tuesday 14 July:

We have made the difficult decision to postpone the September IMRCS Part B exam in Kuala Lumpur. Candidates will be automatically transferred to the next available diet in 2021.

Friday 3 July:
We’re pleased to announce that we’re now able to deliver MJDF Part 1 and MFDS Part 1 remotely. All eligible candidates will be able to sit the examination from their own homes. The format and date of the examinations remains otherwise the same. 

Older daily updates

Tuesday 30 June:
We have added two new tools to our guidance on the recovery of surgical services:

Friday 26 June:
We have published a set of urgent recommendations for action based on what 1,700 of our members have told us about barriers to restarting elective surgery safety, including slow access to test results, continuing difficulty accessing COVID-light facilities and a lack of interdependent services such as diagnostics.

Friday 19 June:
The four Surgical Royal Colleges will resume MRCS examinations from September 2020. Priority will be given to candidates currently within Core Surgical Training. If you were previously booked onto an exam in April or May we will contact you directly.
Candidates who do not get allocated a place in the autumn will be offered a place at the next available diet.
Please see our full statement for details on the prioritisation criteria. Booking reopens today.

Monday 8 June:
We have updated our surgical prioritisation guidance to include details on the prioritisation of spinal surgery and paediatric cardiac surgery.

Friday 5 June:
We have added a third tool to our recovery of surgical services guidance. Our information for patients sheet aims to help patients understand what's different about undergoing surgery during the pandemic.

Saturday 30 May:
A third substantial update has been issued to the Intercollegiate General Surgery Guidance.

Friday 15 May:

Yesterday's update to the intercollegiate guidance on pre-operative chest CT imaging for elective cancer surgery incorrectly flagged the older text (April 15) as the newer update (May 14). We apologise sincerely for the editorial mistake.

Thursday 14 May: 

Tuesday 12 May: We have had to suspend bookings for the UK MRCS Part B October 2020 examinations whilst we assess the capacity at which we can safely deliver the examination in the context of anticipated social distancing guidance. Whilst we will not be accepting any new bookings at this time, we are working hard to maximise our capacity for this examination. More about our exams

Wednesday 6 May: We have had to suspend bookings for the UK MRCS Part A September 2020 examination whilst we assess the capacity at which we can safely deliver the examination in the context of anticipated social distancing guidance. Whilst we will not be accepting any new bookings at this time, we are working hard to maximise our capacity for this examination. More about our exams


Thursday 30 April: We have published the results of our second survey of UK surgeons and trainees, focusing on PPE and testing. Read the key findings, read the full report (PDF), or read the press release.

Wednesday 29 April: We have produced new guidance for the recovery of surgical services to help manage the backlog of elective operations during and after the outbreak. Read the guidance.

Saturday 18 April: We have issued a statement on the latest Public Health England PPE guidance. RCS President-elect, Professor Neil Mortensen, says: 'We are deeply disturbed by this latest change to PPE guidance, which was issued without consulting expert medical bodies. After weeks of working with PHE and our sister medical royal colleges to get the PPE guidance right, this risks confusion and variation in practice across the country.' Read statement in full.

Saturday 11 April: NHS England, with the support of the surgical colleges, published its clinical guide to surgical prioritisation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday 9 April: The four surgical Royal Colleges, together with the Royal College of Radiologists, jointly issued the intercollegiate guidance for pre-operative chest CT imaging for elective cancer surgery during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Wednesday 8 April: NHS England and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges have published specialty guidance on the management of essential cancer surgery for adults during the pandemic (link to hub, link to PDF)

Tuesday 7 April:

Friday 3 April: 

  • We have updated our Good Practice Guide in light of updated PHE guidelines on PPP.
  • Our President, working with the CMO and AoMRC, has written to members advising them of actions to take when identifying secondary care patients at greater risk of morbidity or mortality from COVID-19. Read the letter

Thursday 2 April: Public Health England has today published new COVID-19 infection and control guidance, including guidance on PPE. We are evaluating the guidance and reviewing our own content in light of it. Our initial reaction to the guidance can be found in our press release.

Wednesday 1 April: We have today issued our Good Practice for Surgeons and Surgical Teams guidance. This covers broad recommendations on adapting surgical services, what to take into account when working outside one's comfort zone, caring for patients and protecting the workforce. Read the guidance

Tuesday 31 March: We have collected and issued a series of learning materials, webinars, guidance and research at This includes online learning modules on care for the critically ill and acute illness recognition that we've made publicly available.

Saturday 28 March: Assessment of an unwell patient: We have made educational materials available from our CCrISP and START courses openly available to support with COVID-19 challenges.

Friday 27 March

  • In response to the surge of COVID-19 cases in Northern Ireland, the RCS has issued a joint Royal Colleges statement on the deployment of PPE and infection testing for healthcare workers. 

Thursday 26 March:

  • RCS President Professor Derek Alderson and Chief Executive Andrew Reed hosted the first in a series of webinars discussing the impact of COVID-19 on the surgical workforce. The interactive session included a Q&A where the two speakers answered urgent questions submitted by our members. Watch the recording

Wednesday 25 March:

  • The FDS and other dental education bodies have released a joint statement following the introduction of control measures to manage the spread of COVID-19. It sets out arrangements for dental and dental care professional students and recent graduates, to address concerns they have about completing their studies and training. Read the statement on dental studies and training
  • We've also written to members about CovidSurg and CovidSurg-Cancer, two valuable initiatives we'd like to see broad participation in. Read the letter 

Friday 20 March: The Royal Surgical Colleges of the UK and Ireland have issued guidance to surgeons on planning for the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the guidance in full

Thursday 19 March: Our President, Professor Derek Alderson, has written to fellows and members outlining our priorities with regards to COVID-19 and how we're working with government and public health bodies to address them. Read the letter in full

Monday 16 March: In response to the challenge of COVID-19, the four surgical Royal Colleges of the UK and Ireland have created a joint policy statement to provide guidance to surgeons and surgical trainees. Conferences, educational and training courses, assessment panels, accreditation visits and examinations will be postponed. Our priority is to look after our members and fellows, so they can protect patients.


We have produced or contributed to several sets of guidance intended to help surgeons and their teams manage the challenges presented by COVID-19. This guidance should be read in conjunction with PHE’s guidance on the use of PPE in clinical settings.

Recovery of surgical services before and after COVID-19

  • Published: 29 April, with subsequent updates
  • A framework to help manage the backlog of elective operations during and after the outbreak.

Clinical guide to surgical prioritisation

  • Published: 11 April, with subsequent updates
  • How to prioritise surgical patients using four easy to follow priorities.

Guidance for pre-operative chest CT imaging for elective cancer surgery

  • Published: 9 April (Intercollegiate), with subsequent updates
  • Supplementary guidance to help with pre-operative imaging for patients needing elective cancer surgery.

Clinical guide for the management of essential cancer surgery for adults

  • Published: 7 April (NHS England and NHS Improvement)
  • Supports cancer services to prioritise and manage essential cancer surgery.

Good practice for surgeons and surgical teams

  • Published: 1 April
  • Includes how to adapt surgical services, caring for patients at the end of life, returning to practice, working in an extended scope of practice, and PPE.

General surgery guidance

  • Published: 26 March, with subsequent updates
  • Advice includes risks of aerosol generating procedures and PPE.

Initial guidance for surgeons

  • Published: 20 March (Intercollegiate)
  • Written by two surgeons with experience of working in disaster zones to provide initial guidance on handling COVID-19.

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