The Royal College of Surgeons has received concerns from trainees about the impact of pressures on elective surgery over the winter.

President Derek Alderson said the concerns were regarding trainees’ ability to progress against their respective surgical curricula, relating to “numbers of operations or trainer observations”.

In response, the royal college, alongside Health Education England, has produced guidance for training organisations, trainees and assessment panels for use during the fast approaching annual review of competence progression that trainees will be facing.

However, it stressed that while it does not “presently expect” any trainee to fail their training, he said there could be revisions made to the date they become consultants.

The college has suggested it is possible “up to three months” of last year’s placements could have been “adversely affected by winter pressures”.

It has urged trainers to address any deficits in the first three to four months of work scheduled for next year.

Trainers are urged in the guidance to consider if the acquisition of technical competence has been “compromised” due to the cancellation of elective operations over the winter months and trainees have been told to provide evidence of their competency in such procedures.

Guidance for ARCP panels calls on them to review evidence from the past year to determine if the trainee is on the right trajectory, and if there “appear to be deficits”, to determine whether they are because of “poor progress” or “loss of training opportunities”.

The college’s guidance has also said if there are gaps in the competencies of specialty trainees, their school should propose contingency plans to put in place for the coming winter because “similar pressures are likely”.