Friday 26th January 2018
Royal College of Surgeons, England

I had the opportunity to attend the ICBSE committee meeting on behalf of BOTA which covered a few key points.

The ICBSE committee recognised the recent Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Report on the costs of training which remains a key area of concern to BOTA members. The fees payable to the JCST are still to be determined for August 2018-2019.

A representative from the JCST updated the committee on current efforts to tackle bullying, undermining and harassment (BUH) in the workplace. An online toolkit has been made available and recognition was also passed to RCSEd for their resources and course designed around BUH regarding this issue. Moving forward, there was discussion regarding an anonymous reporting system whereby trainees could potentially utilise ICSP to report BUH behaviours. Key areas of concern included the nature of reporting anonymity and whether the behaviours would be fed back to the alleged perpetrators.  The argument was made that a similar scheme is in place regarding the assessment of MRCS examiners and thus has the potential to translate to tackling BUH behaviours in the workplace. The representative from the JCST acknowledged that if the ISCP platform is to be used then there needs to be confidence from the trainees that any alleged incidences of BUH behaviours can be made with absolute anonymity. Further updates are required. In addition to this, a booklet on unconscious bias is available online for examiners’ perusal.

A new Core Surgical Training curriculum has been introduced in August 2017 that will run over the next four years. All platforms relating to this are to be updated accordingly.

Following that were the reports from the various subgroups of the MRCS examinations. There has been growing concern among the Core Trainee community regarding the perceived lack of support following multiple failed attempts at sitting the examination. Key areas for improvement included a system on ISCP that permitted attempts to be logged and those trainees to be flagged so that appropriate timely intervention and support could be given. There remains a challenge to this and at present it will be reliant on TPDs and trainees to be proactive and seek assistance when needed.

The OSCE subgroup presented, and the nature of examiner performance was discussed with ideas regarding the use of recording equipment becoming more common in MRCS Part B examinations. This an ongoing development. Finally the use of 3D printed prosections as alternatives to cadavers as a means to address the decreasing availability and quality of cadaveric specimens was discussed. Further work on costing and logistics is to occur.

The MCQ subgroup presented their report. The main development is the move towards computer based testing over a paper examination format. This has several advantages in that the proposed centres would be across the UK minimising candidate transport costs. This is unlikely to be introduced in the coming year and will likely have a 1 year period of overlap in order to instigate once in place. Candidates will be notified in advance of these changes. No mention was made on this occasion whether this would impact on the cost of the exam.

The research lead presented their report and several papers relating to the MRCS will be available in the coming year in addition to interviewer performance in national T&O interviews. Details of these publications will follow and a new research fellow post is to be advertised when the current post ends.