The BOA supports this important call by the trainee associations and will continue to advocate for trainees and push for training to be prioritised in elective recovery plans. Training opportunities must be found. Implementation of training incentives, and removal of disincentives are essential to deliver this. Everyone in T&O needs to play their part.
The reduction in elective operating during the pandemic has impacted training of future orthopaedic surgeons, who need to be involved in operations to develop their skills. There were over 250,000 fewer elective orthopaedic operations involving trainee surgeons during the pandemic – this represents 58% of elective training operations for T&O (compared to the year before the pandemic). It is therefore highly likely that some trainees will not complete their training within the usual timescale and will need extra time to catch-up.
It is not just our ability to operate today that is at risk from the consequence of the pandemic. The vast reduction in operations means far fewer training opportunities for trainee surgeons. There are serious educational and service consequences of this. The NHS relies on the continuous availability of newly trained surgeons, and disruption of that career pathway may lead to delays in qualification and career progression. This will put further pressure on the provision of future services and ability to catch up on lost time, and will create a training bottleneck at junior doctor level.
This is a serious concern for the BOA because we are at a time when more surgeons than ever are needed. In order to address this issue restoring training must be as important as restoring delivery of services.