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Local child surgery under threat

16th May 2008

Experts have warned that there could be a future shortage of surgeons to carry out routine child operations at local hospitals.

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The Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Northern Ireland fears there will be fewer young doctors gaining the skills to operate on children, leaving no-one to replace older surgeons as they retired.

The survey showed that a third of NHS hospitals did not offer paediatric surgery, with cases sent to specialist centres. Surgeon’s leaders felt that position would get worse resulting in longer journeys for even routine operations.

While there has been a trend for complex paediatric surgery to be concentrated in regional specialist hospitals, the survey highlighted a “drift? of this for more simple operations such as appendix removal.

Jonathan Pye, Honorary Secretary of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, said the shortage of surgeons was a looming problem.

“We need to settle now if we are to avoid serious shortcomings in the care of future generations of children,? he said. “There is a great swathe of basic care, that, with the right support, could be delivered locally.

“The answer requires a concerted effort from the medical profession and NHS management - renewed training, trusts advertising local general paediatric surgery posts and regional networks to ensure best practice is spread.?

The Department of Health said that the number of paediatric surgeons had increased by 41% since 1997 and said that the National Service Framework for children emphasised that care should be delivered as close to home as possible.

 

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