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Training provides fourth award for Paget

04 December 2017

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The James Paget University Hospital capped an award-winning November by collecting a Learning Technologies Silver Award at another ceremony in London.

The annual Learning Technologies Awards recognise outstanding projects and products from across the globe and the James Paget faced competition from the likes of AXA, Barclaycard, Waitrose and Transport for London in the ‘Best Use Of Blended Learning’ category.

Professor Jerome Pereira, Chair of the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Anna Davidson and Chief Executive Christine Allen were among the representatives at the ceremony on Wednesday, 29 November, where they, in conjunction with Norwich-based Cutting Edge Medical Education, collected the Silver Award for a pioneering way of training the surgeons of the future.

Initiated by renowned surgeons at the James Paget University Hospital, the training has shown significant success in an online trial and may now be rolled out nationally.

Consultant surgeon trainers Professors Jerome Pereira and Sam Leinster, assisted by surgeon Sue Down, last year launched the trial of an online programme for post-graduate medical education, to see if this could improve training and increase the expertise of surgeons worldwide.

The programme sees online lectures about operative procedures and best practice, discussion boards to solve problems and access to a variety of expert opinion via the internet, all designed to enhance skills as well as making it easier for busy, often time poor, junior doctors to supplement their understanding and hone surgical techniques.

Health Education England (HEE) commissioned the development of the web-based educational course as a National Feasibility Study to assess the effectiveness of a new blended approach to training surgeons in the emergency general surgery curriculum with the ultimate aim of improving outcomes for patients with urgent surgical conditions.  Blended learning enables trainees to control both the pace and place of learning essential to their development.

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Professor Pereira led the HEE and James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) funded National Feasibility Study, with the assistance of Professor Leinster, Sue Down and Andrew Simpson, and the support of the Royal College of Surgeons, East of England School of Surgery, NHS Deaneries and Training Programme Directors across the UK, between October 2016 and March 2017.

The randomised control trial assessed the delivery of the ISCP (Intercollegiate Surgical Curriculum Programme) emergency surgery curriculum for registrars who are starting their surgical training and found that the flexible nature of online blended training improved access to formal education, that it freed up time for practical training and ensured access to comprehensive evidence based knowledge to underpin clinical practice.

The blended approach appeared to improve decision-making and critical thinking, with doctors demonstrating higher levels of confidence in managing clinical conditions.

The online training also provided evidence of engagement in formal education, supporting the trainees in revalidation and to monitor their progress.

Professor Pereira is now advocating for the implementation of this blended education and training approach across the NHS.

“The programme was designed to address the challenges of training junior doctors and has given us scientifically significant results. This is the first time we’ve found the key to the education and training of doctors across the whole country. Previously in a hospital teaching setting there were often small attendances as junior doctors were committed elsewhere, but this meant a wasted resource. Now one tutor can teach many students online – it’s a win-win in terms of efficiency and cost effectiveness and students get access to consultants who are experts in their field.

“Advances in medical knowledge mean there is a constant need to provide updates on best practice in all specialities and the internet is an effective and flexible platform to deliver this. The course builds on our existing model of interactive learning to fit in with clinicians busy working patterns.

“I believe this approach will improve junior doctor training – ultimately improving the quality of care given to our patients.”

The success also has wider implications for the training of other health professionals within the NHS such as nurses and paramedics, as similar training programmes could be tailored to their needs and delivered in the same manner.

Professors Pereira and Leinster have a strong track record in creating internet-based training, with the online Specialist Clinical Masterships programmes at the University of East Anglia – the highest qualification in Oncoplastic Breast Surgery, Colorectal Surgery and Regional Anaesthesia in the UK – helping train specialists from more than 20 countries worldwide.

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Professor Pereira, a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon at the JPUH, also delivered the Paget Innovation lecture this year – talking about the hospital and its global impact on post-graduate medical education.