Current challenges in surgical research

Despite one in four NHS episodes being surgical in nature, only a fraction of
research spending is directed towards surgical research. A variety of sources
have identified challenges and opportunities in this area including the Royal
College of Surgeons (Report, 2011) and the National Cancer Research
Institute (Report, 2012). The NCRI has since undertaken a series of five
ongoing workshops on the future of surgery, stimulated by genuine concern
about the UK's capacity to undertake surgical research. These have been
notable for the engagement of funders and patient representatives, who
articulated clearly that advances in surgical care depend upon strong
networks of clinical investigators.

Surgeons face a unique set of challenges to engage actively in research
including the difficulties in getting dedicated time away from the operating
theatre, and limited exposure to clinical academic leadership during training.
Despite this weaker culture of research, surgeons have delivered landmark
trials and motivated surgeons continue to engage with the wider research
infrastructure.

Plastic Surgery provides unique challenges in the length of training required
for skill acquisition, and the need to maintain specialist skills including
microsurgery.

The identification of research priorities within Plastic Surgery as a whole is
currently being undertaken by the BAPRAS Research Committee under a
formal Delphi process and will identify areas for funding and research to focus
on in the coming years.