17 Mar 2022

Update from the ABS President - 2022 Oncoplastic Fellowships

A statement from ABS President, Chris Holcombe, with regards to 2022 Oncoplastic Fellowships.

Update from the ABS President - 2022 Oncoplastic Fellowships

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to update members and trainees regarding the Joint Committee on Surgical Training (JCST) Breast Interface Fellowship 2022.

This year is the first where these fellowships are now post CCT – thank you to Mr Keith Allison, Plastic Surgeon who has led this process as chair of the breast TIG fellowship committee.

Unfortunately, there were no plastic surgery applicants this year (there are 4 current plastic surgery TIG fellows), and as a result, BAPRAS feel they cannot support the fellowships this year and have communicated this to their members.  This is disappointing as we value their input enormously. We will only get the best treatment for our patients by working closely with our plastic surgery colleagues and the TIG fellowships have been a great example of this. 

As requested by BAPRAS the Breast Interface Fellowship has been suspended this year.

However, JCST are very aware of the training needs of those who have already applied for the original fellowship and has therefore decided to proceed this year with a post-certification JCST Oncoplastic Fellowship. Interviews for this breast fellowship are being held within the next two weeks.

There are on-going discussions to decide how the fellowships might be revised to make them more attractive to plastic surgery trainees next year and beyond and ABS is very supportive of these.

Some members may have seen recent statements or letters from BAPRAS. ABS was not copied into these letters but are aware of their content. We disagree with much of the tone and content but we feel that we should continue to enhance relationships with our reconstructive plastic surgery colleagues who are an essential and valued group within our multidisciplinary teams. If your local working relationships with your plastic surgery colleagues have been impacted by some of the statements from BAPRAS we would like to encourage you to meet your plastic surgery colleagues and talk through locally how we can support and engage with each other for the benefit of all our patients.

Nationally there is a need for more reconstructive plastic surgeons and ABS is very supportive of the appointment of more plastic surgeons with a breast interest. There is a need to have more equitable access to free flap surgery across the country and to deal with the current backlog. Do please continue to work with your plastic surgery colleagues to deliver the best possible patient care, and do welcome them in to your MDT/Oncoplastic MDT. If there is the opportunity to support your plastic surgery colleagues in new appointments and business cases please do so, it can sometimes be helpful to bring the ‘cancer voice’.

This is of course embedded in the Breast GIRFT recommendations:

  • 1e Ensure that breast MDTs have a link to a plastic surgeon;
  • 5a Establish oncoplastic MDTs  in every breast and plastic surgical unit (virtual/real)
  • 5c Trusts to provide access to all index methods of reconstruction (following NICE guideline NG 101) and outsourcing reconstruction where necessary.

Patient care is best delivered by multi disciplinary working, and we must not let the current concerns get in the way of that.

Best Wishes

Chris Holcombe