A cross sectional study of surgical training among United Kingdom general practitioners with specialist interests in surgery

H. J. M. Ferguson, J. E. F. Fitzgerald, J. Reilly, A. J. Beamish, V. J. Gokani

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Objectives Increasing numbers of minor surgical procedures are being performed in the community. In the UK, general practitioners (family medicine physicians) with a specialist interest (GPwSI) in surgery frequently undertake them. This shift has caused decreases in available cases for junior surgeons to gain and consolidate operative skills. This study evaluated GPwSI's case-load, procedural training and perceptions of offering formalised operative training experience to surgical trainees.

Design Prospective, questionnaire-based cross-sectional study.

Setting/participants A novel, 13-item, self-administered questionnaire was distributed to members of the Association of Surgeons in Primary Care (ASPC). A total 113 of 120 ASPC members completed the questionnaire, representing a 94% response rate. Respondents were general practitioners practising or intending to practice surgery in the community.

Results Respondents performed a mean of 38 (range 5–150) surgical procedures per month in primary care. 37% (42/113) of respondents had previously been awarded Membership or Fellowship of a Surgical Royal College; 22% (25/113) had completed a surgical certificate or diploma or undertaken a course of less than 1 year duration. 41% (46/113) had no formal British surgical qualifications. All respondents believed that surgical training in primary care could be valuable for surgical trainees, and the majority (71/113, 63%) felt that both general practice and surgical trainees could benefit equally from such training.

Conclusions There is a significant volume of surgical procedures being undertaken in the community by general practitioners, with the capacity and appetite for training of prospective surgeons in this setting, providing appropriate standards are achieved and maintained, commensurate with current standards in secondary care. Surgical experience and training of GPwSI's in surgery is highly varied, and does not yet benefit from the quality assurance secondary care surgical training in the UK undergoes. The Royal Colleges of Surgery and General Practice are well placed to invest in such infrastructure to provide long-term, high-quality service and training in the community.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere007677
JournalBMJ open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2015


  • Community Surgery
  • Surgical Training


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