Ophthalmologists make use of micro-surgical techniques in a variety of operations on the eye. The use of EyeSi simulators to practice these techniques allows trainees to refresh and improve their surgical skills. Simulation training1 is a compulsory requirement for ophthalmology trainees before they are able to undertake eye surgery on patients.
Access to simulators has been difficult for trainees in Wales as only one was available in north Wales. As simulation training was becoming compulsory, it was not appropriate to expect trainees to travel to north Wales to complete their mandated simulation training.
Patrick Watts, Training Programme Director Wales Deanery, had organised training in England with funding from the Deanery as an interim measure but had limitations and was not sustainable. Mr Watts said, “As repeated attempts through the deanery and charitable sources of funding for two years did not lead to a satisfactory solution for our trainees we needed to escalate our concerns and requests.”
Mr Watts, along with Regional Educational Advisor Gwyn Williams brought this to the attention of the Welsh Government, who recognised the immediacy of the problem and stepped in directly to fund the purchase of two VRMagic cataract and vitrectomy training simulators, now located at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff and Singleton Hospital, Swansea.
Speaking on the purchase of new training simulators, Gwyn Williams, RCOphth regional representative for Wales said, “This represents a fine example of the Welsh Government working in close collaboration with ophthalmologists in Wales to fix problems. In this case, we would have been in real difficulty without the additional simulators. Trainees would have had to travel four hours to access the one simulator in the north, or to centres in England, which involved time-consuming and bureaucratic processes to access funding.”
The simulators, available in Swansea and Cardiff will ensure that all trainees across Wales will be able to practice their surgical skills for the benefit of maintaining high quality patient care. Mr Watts added, “The timely response in recognising the need to maintain the high standards of training in Wales by the Welsh Government is much appreciated and to be applauded.”
- Simulation training using artificial model eyes and artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the way trainee ophthalmologists develop surgical and clinical skills by simulating live surgery situations. Frequent practice on simulators, such as the state-of-the-art EyeSi surgical simulators, enables trainees to become familiar with surgical steps and finesse their techniques in a safe environment.