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What is the future for General Surgery in Model 3 Hospitals?

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Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -) Aims and scope Submit manuscript



General Surgery consultant recruitment poses considerable challenges in Model 3 Hospitals in Ireland.


The aim of this paper is to examine General Surgery activity and consultant staffing in order to inform future manpower and service planning.


General surgical activity in Model 3 Hospitals was examined using the validated 2014 Hospital Inpatient Enquiry (HIPE) dataset. Current consultant staffing was ascertained from hospital personnel departments and all trainees on the National Surgical Training Programme were asked to complete a questionnaire on their career intentions.


Model 3 Hospitals accounted for 50% of all General Surgery discharges. In the elective setting, 51.5% of all procedures were endoscopic investigations and in the acute setting only 22% of patients underwent an operation. Most surgical procedures were of low acuity and included excision of minor lesions, appendicectomy, cholecystectomy and hernia repair. Of 76 General Surgeons who work in Model 3 Hospitals 25% were locums and 54% had not undergone formal training in Ireland. A further 22% of these surgeons will retire in the next five years. General Surgical trainees surveyed indicated an unwillingness to take up posts in Model 3 Hospitals, while 83% indicated that a post in a Model 4 Hospital is ‘most desirable’. Lack of attractiveness related to issues regarding rotas, lack of ongoing skill enhancement, poor experience in the management of complex surgical conditions, limited research and academic opportunity, isolation from colleagues and poor trainee support.


These data indicated that an impending General Surgery consultant manpower crisis can only be averted in Model 3 Hospitals by either major change in the emphasis of surgical training or a significant reorganisation of surgical services.

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Correspondence to K. Mealy.

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Mealy, K., Keane, F., Kelly, P. et al. What is the future for General Surgery in Model 3 Hospitals?. Ir J Med Sci 186, 225–233 (2017).

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