Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Health Service/2: I'm a Doctor, and I'm Scared

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Health Service/2: I'm a Doctor, and I'm Scared

Article excerpt

Britain's relentless drive towards medical sub-mediocrity continues. An editorial in the British Medical Journal has drawn attention to the ever-poorer training of surgeons in this country. A recent poll of consultant surgeons found that two-thirds would not want to be operated on by surgeons who had undergone the training that they themselves now supervise. As for the public--let's just hope they never find out.

Before 1993, consultant surgeons had 30,000 hours of training before appointment. Now they have 8,000 hours, and with the introduction of the European Working Time Directive, this will probably fall to 6,000. This change has not been brought about by any improvements in methods of teaching, or any change in the technical requirements of surgery; it has been brought about by purely extraneous political pressure. Inadequately trained surgeons are a direct consequence of a loss of the medical profession's independence.

The picture painted in the BMJ editorial is alarming. Surgeons halfway through their training lack the most basic surgical skills; moreover, in the current climate of target fetishism, there is every incentive for consultant surgeons to reduce the time and attention they devote to teaching the generation below them. For example, it takes less experienced surgeons much longer to perform operations than the consultants, but the consultant is judged by the time taken to perform all operations under his direction. He therefore gives his junior staff less opportunity to operate under his supervision: it is quicker and better to do everything himself. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.