October’s announcement that the College is opening a new centre of operations in Birmingham is the latest step in our efforts to reach out to our membership and provide better training, education and professional support to our Fellows, Members and Affiliates, wherever they are based. You can read more about the new centre on page 12, but a commitment to closer engagement with our membership has been an important issue for the College for a number of years; our Regional Surgical Adviser network was formed in 2008 and our local forums have been held throughout the UK since 2010. So the Birmingham base should be viewed in this wider context, and is a natural progression in bringing our services to the regions where most of our membership live and work.
The political environment in surgery remains turbulent. The fall-out from the Francis Report will be with us for many years but one of the most obvious effects in the recent past has been the publication of surgical outcomes in all surgical disciplines, but for only one index procedure in each discipline.
There is, of course, no surprise that this has caused some disquiet in the surgical community. Any new departure inevitably raises questions about the quality of the data that is being used to assess surgeons. However, I think that we can be reassured that, though uncomfortable, it is merely the start of a process that should give us more clarity about our work, and also help our patients to be sure that any procedure they have done will be done to the highest standard possible.
In recent blogs and articles I have spoken about some of the challenges which currently face us in our professional lives. The situation in the UK continues to be dominated by fiscal constraints in the UK economy and by the dramatic changes which are underway in the NHS in England, the latter of which affect some 75% of this College’s UK membership. In this context, the President’s Meeting in March was a useful time to consider the topic of surgical outcomes, particularly as Sir Bruce Keogh had announced that outcomes for individual surgeons in certain indicator procedures will be part of the revalidation process.