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Scottish Medical Training

Scotland - the home of medical excellence

Speciality: General Surgery

Programme Description
GMC Reference: NOS/464

Why choose this programme.

This programme offers a broad and thorough training in all aspects of general surgery and the sub-specialties at ST3 and above. Placements are provided principally in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, with additional clinical experience available at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital. ST3 level experience is also available at Dr Gray’s Hospital, Elgin.

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) is NHS Grampian’s largest hospital, situated at Foresterhill, Aberdeen. Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and Aberdeen Maternity Hospital are also housed on the same site. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is the main hospital for the Grampian Area and is the University Teaching Hospital. It provides most of the specialist medical and surgical services for the Grampian region, serving a population of over 600,000 across the North of Scotland. It offers all surgical specialities with the exception of transplantation surgery. Recent developments include the provision of robotic surgery for colorectal and urological disease. ARI offers a number of tertiary referral services to the North of Scotland and the Island Health Boards, including thoracic surgery, urology and gynaecological surgery. ARI is one of Scotland’s designated trauma centres.

There are close links with the University of Aberdeen’s medical school where there has been pioneering research in many fields, including the development of MRI and PET scanning. There are excellent facilities for collaborative research with the clinical and basic science departments of the University of Aberdeen and the medical school library is on site.

Raigmore Hospital is a busy teaching hospital based in Inverness, providing clinical services to the North of Scotland and the Western Isles, equivalent to one third of the total area of Scotland. Approximately 300,000 people live within the Highland Health Board area, in urban, rural and remote environments. Raigmore provides a wide range of clinical services on site, with all the main General Surgical specialties represented. Robotic colorectal surgery is a recent addition to the clinical profile.

Raigmore Hospital provides the University of Aberdeen’s (UofA) second undergraduate medical teaching site, with additional undergraduates received from ScotGEM. There is an established academic teaching and research unit, housed within the Centre for Health Sciences, affording postgraduate Research opportunities on site or in collaboration with clinical centres around Scotland. The University of Stirling department of nursing and midwifery (Highland Campus) are also based on the Raigmore site. Raigmore Hospital has developed a recognised expertise in simulation, and has developed the Surgical Bootcamp for Core Trainees.

Dr Gray’s Hospital is the district general hospital based in Elgin. Dr Gray’s Hospital sits within Grampian Health Board, providing General Surgery Services to the population of Moray. Patients requiring sub-specialty input are referred onwards to ARI, with some patients from West Moray travelling towards Inverness. Consequently, there are close working relationships with both units.

Raigmore Hospital and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary provide support to the rural hospitals in Western Isles, Fort William, Caithness, Orkney and Shetland. This programme offers the unique opportunity to understand and work with the challenges of remote and rural surgery. Interested trainees will have the opportunity to participate in lists undertaken within the peripheral hospitals.

Formal audit and educational meetings take place in all placements and each hospital has good support from radiology and other specialties. There is an established teaching programme for the surgical trainees. This is currently delivered in a residential format over the course of two days, twice each year. This allows networking amongst trainees distributed across a wide area. Additional educational activity is supported through College and Specialty Association events. Educational activity is supported with the Training budget provided by NHS Education for Scotland.

The North of Scotland is an area of outstanding beauty and historical significance. With a population of approximately 250,000 Aberdeen stands between the Rivers Dee and Don. The historic old city has many buildings of architectural interest and the use of the sparkling local granite has earned Aberdeen the name of the Silver City. As well as being an international centre for the oil industry, Aberdeen retains its old charm and character making it an attractive place to live, with a good quality of life. Inverness stands on the River Ness and has a population of nearly 70,000. It was granted city status in 2000 and is often quoted as being the fastest growing city in Europe. It is an attractive city with a mild climate and offers easy access to the Highlands, Loch Ness and the West Coast. Both cities provide ample opportunity for city living, and outdoor pursuit. The region has excellent transport links by road and rail, with domestic and international flights available from Aberdeen and Inverness airports. Both cities offer a wide choice of housing both in the city and in rural villages within easy commuting distance. Education facilities are excellent, Amenities are first class, with restaurants, night clubs, theatres, music hall, exhibition centre, art galleries, museums and sporting facilities.


Additional information

University of Aberdeen:

University of Highlands and Islands:

NHS Grampian: 

NHS Highland: 

Aberdeen City Council:


Highland Council:


Where is the training delivered?

Training is delivered across:

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, and Dr Grays Hospital, Elgin. Ad hoc exposure to the remote and rural training environments in the Belford Hospital, Fort William, and Caithness General Hospital, Wick, is provided through delivery of the Highland-wide surgical service.

Research, audit, teaching and management opportunities

This programme provides a good and varied grounding in all the main General Surgical specialties, with additional opportunities for attachments to Paediatric surgery.  There are also opportunities to experience Remote and Rural (R&R) surgery, and a programme for R&R training as a specialty interest is available for Higher Surgical trainees.

There are wide ranging opportunities for research, audit and teaching on the programme at all stages. There are excellent facilities for collaborative research with the clinical and basic science departments of the University of Aberdeen and the medical school is on site.  Several current trainees have completed and are currently undertaking research leading to Higher Degrees (MD) in both basic sciences and clinical research.  Other trainees have chosen to pursue Higher Degrees in a wide range of subjects including, for example, Masters in Medical Law and in Public Health. A number of trainees are completing Medical Education qualifications at Certificate, Diploma and Masters levels. Several trainees are undertaking MSc qualifications in Surgical Sciences, Patient Safety etc.  Research is not compulsory but is encouraged for educational development and to ensure that the trainee is competitive at interview for Fellowships and Consultant posts.  Opportunities to undertake Higher Degrees are available in both Aberdeen and Inverness.

The Suttie Centre for Teaching and Learning in Aberdeen and the Centre for Health Sciences in Inverness are both new state-of-the-art teaching centres, located on site with the hospitals. Advanced simulation equipment is located in both sites and a mobile unit is available in the Remote & Rural hospitals.

The formal educational programme consists of twice-yearly Consultant-led teaching. Provided over two days, this is provided on a residential basis to allow networking opportunity. However, where this is not feasible remote learning is supported. The educational programme covers the main topics on the surgical curriculum in rotation. Skills sessions are included in the programme. Trainees have the opportunity to present at these meetings. In addition, most units have their own educational meetings, MDT and M&M meetings as well as larger departmental M&M meetings. As well as the formal teaching programme there are extensive learning resources available online for General Surgery, for example through ISCP and the Surgical Colleges.  ESSQ is an online qualification and exam preparation course undertaken by some trainees.

The North of Scotland has long held a reputation for excellence in surgical training.  There is a very strong commitment to training in the region, recognised in the recent GMC report on the visit to the North of Scotland and in QA visits.  This is also reflected in the strong performance of trainees in the Intercollegiate examination, in completion of Higher degrees by trainees, by the ongoing success of trainees in competitive interview for National Fellowships and in the successful appointment of CCT graduates to desired Consultant posts.

Our future specialty trainees and consultant colleagues are often recruited from trainees who have spent some time in the North of Scotland.  Once trainees have experienced the work and lifestyle opportunities in the region, they often want to stay. We are therefore keen to attract and retain high calibre surgeons in training to provide an excellent service to the people in the North of Scotland.

Where is the training delivered?
Training is delivered across:

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, Dr Grays Hospital, Elgin


North and North-East Scotland – placements in hospitals in Aberdeen, Inverness, Elgin and Fort William Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen

Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, Aberdeen

Dr. Gray’s Hospital, Elgin

Raigmore Hospital, Inverness

Contacts and Useful Links
Programme Type Deanery based or National: Deanery
Administration office North of Scotland
Lead Dean / Director Professor Adam Hill
Responsible Associate Postgraduate Dean or Assistant Director (GP)
Specialty or Sub-specialty Specialty or Sub-specialty: Specialty
Date of GMC recent approval August 2010
Associated Royal College - Faculty
Joint Committee on Surgical Training (web site)
Curriculum and Associated Assessment System
Programme Administrator: Named Programme Administrator: Jackie Aitken
Address: NHS Education for Scotland, 1st floor, 102 Westport, Edinburgh EH3 9DN 0131 6563475
Tel: 01316 563475
Programme Director Programme Director Name: Mr Ron Coggins
Address: Mr Ron Coggins Raigmore Hospital Inverness IV2 3UJ Tel: 01463 706360
Quality of Training Quality Management

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