UK’s Oldest Surgical College Gears Up for First-Ever Cycling Symposium Across Britain

The UK’s oldest surgical Royal College is switching gears and taking to the road, on the first-ever ‘Cycling Symposium’ across the UK.

Pictured: Giles Bond-Smith, Katherine Hurst and Mike Silva

On behalf of the 500+ year-old Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (, a dozen surgeons and surgeons-in-training will be setting off on 1 September on a gruelling seven-day bicycle trek from Southampton to Edinburgh – in a bid to spread the word on the latest news and advances in the field of surgery.

On this mission, the team of experienced consultants and talented trainees will stop each evening to conduct a series of masterclasses on key surgical topics. These include highlighting the importance of patients’ cardiovascular fitness prior to surgery, an update on the College’s groundbreaking anti-bullying campaign #LetsRemoveIt, as well as other subjects surrounding safety in the operating theatre, reducing the risk of infections, ‘never events’ and topics of special interest in vascular surgery and trauma surgery.

The team, led by Oxford-based Consultant Liver, Pancreatic and General Surgeon and RCSEd Deputy Surgical Director of the Regional Advisory Network, Mr Mike Silva and Academic Surgical Fellow at Oxford University Hospital and Member of the RCSEd’s Trainees’ Committee Miss Katherine Hurst, will set off from Southampton, pedalling through Oxford, Birmingham, Sheffield, Middleborough, Newcastle and Carlisle to arrive in Edinburgh after a journey of almost 550 miles. Keen cyclists are invited to take part too, by joining the surgeons and cycling part of the route with them.

Spearheading the cycling effort Mr Mike Silva said:

“Poor physical fitness can lead to costly yet avoidable complications after surgery and there is strong evidence that improving a patient’s functional capacity lends to better surgical outcomes. In October 2014, the RCSEd launched a UK-wide education campaign to get patients exercising adequately prior to their surgery.  A key aspect of the ‘Cycling Symposium’ will therefore highlight the positive aspects of physical activity like cycling.

“#LetsCycleIt will also incorporate a series of surgical masterclasses each evening. The topical discussions will be delivered by surgeons who have taken part in the ride to a diverse audience that will include members of the public, medical students, junior doctors in training and practicing surgeons.”

Cycling alongside Mr Silva will be Miss Katherine Hurst, an Academic Surgical Fellow at Oxford University Hospital:

Over 80% of the College’s UK members are based in England and Wales, so we’re taking to the roads to highlight the presence of RCSEd throughout Britain, and the work undertaken to improve patient outcomes and ensure surgery is a profession that remains thriving and inclusive. The College has been championing programmes such as the hugely successful national anti-bullying campaign #LetsRemoveIt, and showcasing roles for women in surgery. Studies estimated that bullying within the NHS costs UK organisations nearly £14billion per year, and healthcare professionals have attributed disruptive behaviour alone to 67% of adverse patient events, 71% of medical errors, and 27% of perioperative deaths. Bullying and harassment in the workplace is no longer acceptable and our travelling symposium will inform and equip surgeons to tackle this detrimental behaviour.

“Women form an ever increasing proportion of the UK’s surgical workforce and the College has an increasing number of female trainees, surgeons and Council members.  A number of female surgeons will be participating as riders and will showcase opportunities for women choosing a career in surgery.”

The #LetsCycleIt route will be open to local cyclists, both healthcare professionals and the public. To join in any of the seven daily stages, register online beforehand via the RCSEd website.

The President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Professor Mike Lavelle-Jones said:  “I wish Mike and Katie, along with all the other cyclists, a most successful trip and I look forward to meeting up with them from time to time along the way. This is a unique event, which provides an opportunity to emphasise the importance of fitness, not only to our patients but also to the population at large. The cycle ride across the heart of England is a bold initiative and I applaud all of the team for their sterling efforts.”

Cycling Surgical Symposium Agenda:

Oxford – Saturday 1 September 2018

Birmingham – Sunday 2 September 2018

Sheffield – Monday 3 September 2018

Middlesbrough – 4 September 2018

Newcastle – 5 September 2018

Carlisle – Thursday 6 September 2018

  • Update on #LetsRemoveIt campaign – Miss Katherine Hurst
  • Stop that bleeding; gems from a practicing vascular surgeon – Mr Barnabas Green
  • Improving surgical outcomes; the cost of surgical site infections and the success of preventative measures – Mr Giles Bond Smith
  • Hot Gallbladders; when should you back off and live to fight another day? – Mr Paul Gallagher
  • The cyclists derriere and other painful posteriors – Mr Stephen Boyce
  • When do I need a liver surgeon? Tips on how to manage liver trauma – Mr Michael Silva
  • Am I fit enough for my surgery, doctor?  How to climb that mountain just to get to your operation – Mr Christopher Darby
  • Is ‘never event’ a misnomer? Reflections of a NHS manager on improving the working environment for safe surgical care – Mr Rainer Buhler