SpaMedica extends its ophthalmic training programme, creating vital placements for NHS registrars

The UK’s largest provider of NHS cataract surgery is already supporting 60 aspiring surgeons, and has recently appointed three staff members to further develop its training provision 

Leading NHS eye health provider SpaMedica has offered 60 NHS registrars the opportunity to undertake cataract surgery training across its network of hospitals, demonstrating the company’s commitment to providing high-quality training to future generations of ophthalmologists.

Strengthened by three recent appointments – Victoria Reece as Surgeon Training Programme Specialist, Connor Blackhurst as Surgeon Relationship Manager (North) and Skye Barber as Surgeon Relationship Manager (South) – SpaMedica is leading the way in creating more training opportunities for NHS registrars within the independent sector. In their newly-created roles, Ms Reece, Mr Blackhurst and Ms Barber will work closely with NHS deaneries across the country, overseeing the continued development of SpaMedica’s cataract surgery training programme.

The appointments coincide with SpaMedica’s most recent cohort of NHS trainees starting placements in Chelmsford and Poole, taking the total number to 60 across its hospitals. SpaMedica is now offering more cataract training placements than any other independent service provider, aiming to exceed the blueprint laid out by The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Supervised by SpaMedica’s highly-skilled consultants and theatre teams, the latest cohorts are gaining valuable experience of treating all types of cataracts and have access to the company’s state-of-the-art facilities.

In addition to on-site training at its hospitals, SpaMedica’s industry-leading provision includes four regional training suites, each featuring a digital dry lab equipped with the very latest technology. The suites – in Widnes, Wokingham, Stockton and Wolverhampton – are open to SpaMedica and NHS staff, enabling them to hone their microsurgical motor skills on synthetic eyes. In addition to the four regional suites, two smaller ‘pop-up’ dry labs are available in Birmingham and Poole, offering access to training for those in the Midlands and the South.

Dr Alex Silvester, SpaMedica’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “We have invested heavily in helping to progress the careers of future ophthalmologists and it’s fantastic to reach a milestone of 60 NHS trainees, while ensuring our training provision continues to grow with the appointments of Victoria, Connor and Skye. They will be liaising closely with deaneries across the UK, supporting the training and development of NHS registrars at our GMC-accredited hospitals. Trainees will gain a wealth of hands-on experience, operating alongside our brilliant teams and having the opportunity to refine their techniques in our specialist dry labs.

“We’re excited to expand our programme further and we look forward to working in partnership with the NHS to develop the careers of tomorrow’s highly-skilled surgeons.”

NHS deaneries interested in partnering with SpaMedica to provide ophthalmology training, or requiring additional information on the programme, are encouraged to contact SpaMedica directly. 

Trainee case study: Philip credits placement with boosting his confidence and skillset

NHS trainee ophthalmologist Dr Philip Wright completed a six-month training placement with SpaMedica, and credited the experience with boosting his confidence and skillset as he progresses in his career.

“The team at SpaMedica Birmingham were exceptionally welcoming and supportive. My clinical supervisor was kind and patient; he gave fantastic constructive feedback that I could immediately implement and encouraged me to do as many cases as I could comfortably manage. I was able to complete my theatre list independently as I got towards the end of the placement.

“I operated on a range of complex cataract cases, including small pupils, shallow anterior chambers, dense cataracts, patients with previous refractive surgery, diabetes, corneal opacities, and more. I now feel able to approach any case and adapt to it appropriately.”

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