Emergency surgery in the 21st century

June 14 250pxAll sides in the emergency surgery debate came together in March for the College’s annual conference. Discussion on the best configuration for emergency services goes on, but the event provided a valuable opportunity for sharing best practice and innovative solutions from around the world. John Duncan reports

Emergency surgery has been described as a ‘Cinderella’ specialty. If that means something which unexpectedly achieves recognition after a period of obscurity or neglect, then the term is undoubtedly accurate. Emergency surgery has been starved of resources, leadership and kudos for too long.

It is often regarded as the part of a consultant’s workload that gets in the way of his/her subspecialty work, which is seen as more important and more deserving of investment in research, organisation and visibility. Yet emergency surgery is the area of practice responsible for the majority of surgical bed days and, most importantly, it has the worst outcomes.

Debate: emergency surgery as a defined specialty

Richard Ward
Medical Director and Emergency General Surgeon, Aintree University Hospital

Simon Paterson-Brown
Consultant General and Upper GI Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

In session

session 3

From orthopaedics to ENT, a broad range of associations and societies were at the President's Meeting to discuss emergency surgery as it relates to their own specialty


Session One
British Orthopaedic Association, Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Vascular Society. Chaired by Robert Jeffrey and Richard Montgomery

Mr John Keating, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, provided data illustrating the distribution of straightforward ordinary and more complex fractures. He indicated that the majority of the ordinary fractures could be dealt with by general orthopaedic surgeons working within the district general hospital environment. He identified that 10 common fractures account for 75% of orthopaedic trauma workload. However, the more complex injuries were probably better dealt with in bigger units where there were surgeons with a subspecialty interest.

Learning excellence

march cover 250From distance learning to surgical apps, technology is making it easier to educate surgeons across the globe. In this special feature, we examine the latest developments and successes starting with the award-winning Edinburgh Surgical Sciences Qualification

The year 2013 was a remarkable one for our surgical distance learning programmes. We always believed that the Edinburgh Surgical Sciences Qualification (ESSQ) was groundbreaking but it was really exciting to have the innovative Masters in Surgical Sciences programme recognised by the announcement at St James’s Palace in November that it had received the highest educational award available in the country. The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education is only awarded every two years by the Royal Anniversary Trust, which seeks to ‘promote world-class excellence and achievement’.

The portable classroom

portable classroomWe speak to Dr Juana Kabba about his experience of using distance learning technology to study for the Edinburgh Surgical Sciences Qualification


How did you hear about the course?

In 2009, as a final-year medical student, a classmate was searching the internet and came across the ESSQ website. He knew that I wanted to become a surgeon, so told me about it. I discussed it with a friend from the UK who helped me to apply and I started the course in September 2011.

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