Training boosted in private sector

By Leslie Berry

The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) has welcomed a successful national effort to train hundreds of NHS junior doctors in the independent healthcare sector over the last 18 months.

Figures from the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) show more than 4,000 have been trained in private hospitals since 2020 under the Doctors In Training initiative – and now it is hoped to considerably increase the number.

The college has long called for all elective NHS operations to include a surgical trainee, including those procedures delivered in the independent sector. 

Miss Fiona Mint

According to RCS vice-president Miss Fiona Myint, this is vital because a substantial volume of NHS work, such as hip and knee replacements, now takes place in private units. 

She said: ‘We appreciate the considerable amount of work that has been done to establish guidance to support an increase in surgical training in the independent sector. We are keen to ensure that the national guidance is implemented as fully as possible at the local level. 

‘We are committed to working with the NHS and the independent sector to overcome the barriers to accessing training, so that opportunities are offered consistently across the country.’

The surge in junior training in independent healthcare facilities followed a landmark agreement to increase training opportunities in the sector.

An IHPN report last month reflects on progress made since it reached agreement in September 2020 with the Confederation of Postgraduate Schools of Surgery, Health Education England (HEE), and NHS England to ensure the independent healthcare sector plays its part in training the next generation of doctors.

Cancellation of many elective procedures in the NHS due to the pandemic meant independent providers were able to ensure juniors’ training was not disrupted –particularly as part of its delivery of routine orthopaedic and ophthalmology treatment. 

IHPN’s report sets out the cultural shift around medical training in the last 18 months, with a recognition of the widespread benefits of having the independent sector as a training provider and the need for all parts of the healthcare system to work together.

With a commitment to building on the progress made since 2020, the report also makes recommendations to ensure NHS junior doctors can more easily access the high-quality training in the independent sector.