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Snapshot: 3 Months of UK Surgeons

Over the course of the last several months, the Confederation of British Surgery has been immensely proud of the response from the UK surgical community, and indeed from the wider communities of medical professionals and healthcare support workers. We have observed tremendous shows of dedication, kindness, and care, whether for patients; or for peers, under the most demanding, and the most taxing times the NHS has ever seen.

As lockdown eases and the UK returns to a ‘new normal,’ the work does not subside, and it is arguably more challenging with essential hospital staff suffering the effects of burnout, and others with the effects of illness. As we discussed in last month’s blog, Mutual Support and Limiting Moral Distress in the Time of C-19, we foresee that one of the biggest and long-lasting impacts on medics stationed at the front lines will be moral injury and mental health, and want to do our part to provide a space for discussion and support among surgeons.

Additionally, we recognise that with surgeons’ focus rightly on keeping themselves and their families safe while working tirelessly to provide care during the pandemic, many may not have had the chance to follow CBS in the headlines. With this in mind, we’d like to reflect on the work the Confederation has done to support surgeons and other medics across the UK over the last three months. You can review each of the initiatives by accessing the CBS news archives, and we have included links to them throughout.

In March, the Confederation celebrated International Women’s Day 2020 and announced a partnership with the UCL chapter of Women in Surgery. The goals of this partnership included discussions on how CBS could help generate awareness of a new study set to analyse the unique challenges faced by women surgeons at each level of the training pathway, as well as those already more established in their surgical careers. CBS hoped to help promote the study to a Consultant level, in order to assist researchers to obtain the most robust data possible with which to effect positive change in the sector. We were also honoured to present the comments from CBS member Miss Leena Chagla, a Consultant Surgeon who offered a snapshot on the changes she’d seen since beginning her career, and the women surgeons who inspired her, and others toward achieving excellence in surgery.

Throughout the month, spokespeople from the Confederation issued a number of comments for media, and released a press release entitled Cutting Surgeons’ Risk, detailing that surgeons with Covid-19 had sadly been admitted to intensive treatment units; and shared recently escalated general guidance for surgeons, as well as new guidelines for high-risk professionals such as ENT and Maxillofacial surgeons. The release also demanded cosmetic practice cease, and warned against the increased risk of burns and injuries in Britons now working at home. This effort received national attention through broadcast and print media, appearing on ITN News; in the Sunday Times; Sunday Times Online; the Daily Telegraph; Telegraph Online; the Mail on Sunday and the Mail Online.

In April, CBS promoted a collaboration between doctors and industry, which would supply unused PPE to the NHS, and this formed the basis of another press release, PPE Not Fit for Purpose, which was also discussed on ITN News and in the Times.

Additionally, CBS spoke out about private clinics who were promoting and selling vitamin drips, exploiting virus fears and risking the lives of Britons, which ran in the Sunday Times; and warned the public of additional risks posed by undertaking DIY and gardening tasks during lockdown, as an uptick in trauma injuries caused by power tools threatened to cause greater strains to the health service. Stories appeared in the Sun, the Scottish Sun and in the Daily Telegraph.

In May, the Confederation once again made headlines, with another segment on ITV news, and voicing concerns about whether the general public could be at greater risk from misusing masks, or considering them to be a panacea against the coronavirus. The points raised by CBS featured in the Times, and made the front page of the Herald (Scotland), which generated further interest in the story from the Sun, as well as from regional publications around the UK.

As the health service works ceaselessly to deliver essential care under some of the most difficult conditions the United Kingdom has ever faced, the CBS continues to recognise the tremendous work being conducted by surgeons, surgical trainees, the royal colleges of surgery and surgical associations.

As ever, CBS endeavours to share and support the work, and the uniquely challenging experiences of surgeons, trainees and medical students in the surgical training pathway as we navigate these unprecedented times; and we continue to value your feedback, stories and photographs as we document the daily lives of surgeons, and the work being done to combat C19.

We invite you to follow and engage with us on social media (@UKSurgeons), to tag us into your posts, and to continue letting us know which issues affecting surgeons need more attention and support.


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