The HEKSS training programme in Ophthalmology is a 7 year run-through programme from the first ST1 year to the final ST7 Trainee Selected Component (TSC) which is a sub-specialty year in a HEKSS or London unit.
We aim to give a good grounding in the basics for the first 2 years including a good start to gaining competency in cataract surgery. We support all our trainees in achieving a goal of having completed 100 cataract operations by the end of the ST2 year which is twice the number recommended nationally!
In 4 out of our 5 posts you will stay in the same hospital for the first two years and so get the benefit of some stability, on the other hand you may prefer to experience some variety across the beautiful Sussex coast rotating from ST1 in Worthing to your ST2 year in Hastings. In the first two years you will have a half day of protected teaching and a half day of personal study weekly.
You will then rotate around posts in Kent, Surrey and Sussex for your ST3 to ST6 years ensuring a good mix of experience in all of the ophthalmology sub-specialties. We are not able to guarantee being placed in any particular part of the region in each year but you will have the opportunity to rank the posts each year and we aim to be as family-friendly and thoughtful as possible when deciding placements. In these four years you will have a half day of protected teaching and two half days for personal study weekly. The undertaking of research is actively supported by a regional group run by trainees for trainees.
Four times a year we have regional whole-day teaching which all trainees attend. We have an excellent network of College Tutors who look out for trainees in each unit and attend Specialty Training Committee (STC) meetings quarterly where we sort out training issues. A Trainee representative for the region also attends and gives feedback from all the trainees. In each unit all the Consultants involved in training and a Trainee representative for the unit attend the Local Faculty Group (LFG) four times a year where training issues are discussed.
We discuss the GMC survey every year at STC and LFG meetings and demand action where things can be improved. Every year we also visit one of the 3 sub-regions and inspect the training. All of this adds up to a very robust system in picking up problems and solving them for the benefit of trainees.
Zambia Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Research Fellowship
We are very supportive of trainees wanting different experiences in an OOP year and are yet to refuse an application. We also offer annually a fellowship year in Zambia, which all trainees (ST2 and above) are invited to apply for. Further details can be found here.
In your final year you will have the opportunity to pursue sub-specialty training in a KSS or London unit. Often trainees go straight from this year into a Consultant post but sometimes trainees choose to get more experience in post CCT posts first.
Meet the Training Programme Director
Adam Bates MA (Hons) FRCS Ed FRCOphth
I have been interested in how the eye works since studying it at school and managed to get enthusiastic about pursuing a career in Ophthalmology after just doing 4 days of it at medical school! I doubt my enthusiasm for our specialty and for guiding trainees through their first years of working and studying as an ophthalmologist will ever wain.
I have been a Consultant Ophthalmologist since 2006 at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and in this time have managed to fit in being College Tutor with responsibility for ophthalmology training in the trust for 4 years and Lead Consultant with managerial responsibility for the department for 4 years. My university training was at Cambridge and Manchester and my ophthalmology training was at Sheffield, Manchester, London and Nottingham so I have some experience of different trainee regimes!
In clinic I see children with eye problems, adults with squints (a misalignment of one eye in relation to the other) and adults with eye problems related to neurological disease. The work is varied and always interesting. I mainly do squint and cataract operations in theatre.
Since 2011, I have been Training Programme Director for Ophthalmology for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex region. I am passionate about making sure the quality of our training is as good as possible. I really enjoy helping trainees progress and sorting out the problems they face on a day-to-day basis. It’s important to be a constant champion for their needs.