15 July 2012


The UK Royal College of Surgeons is campaigning to persauade the British government to restrict use of the title 'surgeon' to people with a medical degree and surgical training.

A poll under RCS auspices found that 95% of 2,000 people expect a "surgeon" to be medically qualified.

The RCS has been critical of podiatric surgeons, represented by the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, who do not have medical degrees but do have training in "the surgical and non-surgical treatment of the foot". The Institute has sniffed that "Podiatric surgeons" use "highly skilled and meticulous surgical techniques" and are "specialist foot surgeons" who have trained exclusively for up to 12 years in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of the foot and associated structures.

The RCS commented that -
Currently patients are being left in the dark and cannot make informed decisions about their treatment.
The law must be changed so only those who have undertaken the extensive medical training it takes to become a surgeon can use this title.
This will avoid patients misunderstanding the qualification of the person treating them in the future
and that
It is extremely worrying that in the health sector clarity regarding job titles is lacking. Patients undergoing treatment have a right to know the credentials of the person to whom they are entrusting their safety.
The law can be very strict in protecting working titles and we believe the same legal cover should be extended to the title surgeon.
Concerns about credentials, registration regimes and claims are highlighted here, here and here.