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Welsh Surgeon Makes the Cut


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12 May 2014

A paediatric and colorectal surgeon from Rhyl in North Wales has been hailed as ‘inspirational’ by England’s NHS Director Sir Bruce Keogh and honoured with one of the most prestigious awards in UK surgery. Mike Lavelle-Jones, Vice President of Britain’s oldest and largest surgical Royal College, was ‘deeply touched’ to be handed the “Silver Scalpel” by surgical trainees who nominated him for his lifelong contribution to training in surgery, at a ceremony held recently in Belfast.

With a long-standing involvement with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (www.rcsed.ac.uk); which this month opened its first-ever centre of operations outside of Scotland to cater for the 80% of its UK membership based in England and Wales; Mr. Lavelle-Jones has served as Convener of Examinations and Honorary Secretary before taking the role of Vice President. He credits having spent two decades each in Wales, England and Scotland giving him a unique perspective on the challenges that span equally across the UK, and singles out the current amount of hands-on training time as one of the biggest obstacles to consistency and effectiveness in surgical education.

Awarded by the Association of Surgeons in Training (www.asit.org), the highly competitive “Silver Scalpel” accolade has been recognising excellence in surgical training since 2003. It is awarded annually to inspirational trainers who have scored highly across the five categories of leadership, resourcefulness, training and development, professionalism and communication. Winners are not only recognised for delivering excellence in training but also in delivering a first class clinical service.

On receiving the award, Mr Lavelle-Jones commented:

“There are few things in the career of a consultant surgeon more satisfying than steering a surgical trainee from novice through to stand-alone competence. Receiving the coveted Silver Scalpel award by the Association of Surgeons in Training is one of the most important moments of my professional life and I am deeply touched.

“Having spent twenty years in Wales, twenty in England and yet another two decades in Scotland, I have found that all nations have much more in common with each other than people might think. With exemplary health services but shrinking budgets and limited hours, our biggest challenge is to ensure that trainees are able to have enough time for consistent, hands-on training to help them deliver a good service.”

“The support and guidance of trainees in the workplace is absolutely vital. I’m particularly pleased that this award has been made while I am serving as Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh – the only Royal College with a Faculty of Surgical Trainers and which offers trainees representation on its Council.”
 
The highly competitive shortlisting and scoring process began when Mr Lavelle-Jones was nominated for the award by his trainees, who were then interviewed by ASiT, with further endorsement coming from peers and nursing staff who work with Mr Lavelle-Jones. 

Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS in England, commented:

“All three finalists were absolutely outstanding. The ingredient that distinguished the winner was 'inspiration'.”
 
Mr David O’Regan, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Past ASiT President, and coordinator of the prize, said:

“It’s amazing to know trainees are working alongside all the nominees, who are constantly inspiring them to learn, but doing so in a way that is fun and relevant. I am always inspired when I read the initial nominations. We could learn from all of them.”

After training in Merseyside and completing a research fellowship in San Diego, California, Mr Lavelle-Jones was appointed Consultant General and Paediatric surgeon at Ninewells Hospital and Medical school in 1993. 

Mr Lavelle-Jones received the award at the ASiT Annual Conference, held in Belfast from 28-30 March.

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