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New guidance on cataract surgery training in high volume settings 

  • 08 Dec 2021
  • RCOphth news

With an increasing need to provide surgical training opportunities in high volume cataract theatre lists across all settings, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has published new guidance to help providers, trainers, and trainees achieve this.

Cataract Surgical Training in High Volume Cataract Settings sets out how training of cataract surgeons and commissioning of cataract services for all cataract patients should be standardised and consistent within all settings.  The new guidance features:

  • How to undertake multifactorial training
  • Requirements for training units
  • Conducting a “step-wise” modular training plan
  • Commissioning of training services.

Over 400,000 cataract operations are performed each year in England and Wales1, in both NHS and independent sector settings.

High volume cataract theatre lists are increasingly becoming the norm, with RCOphth and GIRFT publishing guidance earlier in 2021 on how to deliver high volume routine cataract surgery.

As nearly half (46%) of cataract procedures were delivered by independent sector providers (2020/21), the RCOphth expects the independent sector to also play a role in providing high quality training. In November 2021, the RCOphth  published a position statement outlining steps that needed to be taken, including increasing access to training, to ensure that the independent sector contributed to sustainable patient care.

Cataract surgery training

Ophthalmology training is a nationalised run-through programme of seven years. All ophthalmology trainees must complete 50 independent cataract operations before progressing to their third year of training. All trainees must complete a minimum of 350 independent cataract operations to gain their CCT (certificate of completion of training) and in order to apply for a consultant post. However, many ophthalmologists in training are struggling to get the access to surgical sessions they need to become experienced surgeons due to the impact of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

The guidance has been developed by Sarah Maling, Consultant Stoke Mandeville Hospital (main author), Melanie Hingorani, Consultant Moorfields Hospital, Fiona Spencer, Consultant Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, and Alex Tytko, RCOphth Head of Education and Training.

If you have any questions or require further information on training cataract surgeons in high volume cataract lists or commissioning cataract services, please contact [email protected]

Trainers and trainees may also find the following resources useful:

1 Figure from National Ophthalmology Database (NOD) report.