New centre to train doctors in surgical skills

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (second from right) observing how a laparoscopic simulator works at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Surgical Skills and Simulation Centre on the SGH campus yesterday.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (second from right) observing how a laparoscopic simulator works at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Surgical Skills and Simulation Centre on the SGH campus yesterday.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

More than 1,000 local and overseas healthcare practitioners a year will be able to receive training in surgical and procedural skills at a new centre that was opened yesterday.

The SingHealth Duke-NUS Surgical Skills and Simulation Centre (SSSC) will offer training across 20 specialities and sub-specialities under one roof.

Previously, the various SingHealth institutions and departments offered training separately.

One of the most comprehensive centres of its kind, the centre is located in SingHealth's healthcare training hub on the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) campus.

The centre will enable the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre to increase its current trainee intake by 20 per cent.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who officiated at the centre's opening, said in a speech that advances in surgical techniques and new devices have transformed the way surgery is performed.

"Medical research and education are (also) important drivers for the advancement and improvement of patient care," he said, adding that it is equally crucial too to develop new models of care.

He cited the SingHealth Duke-NUS Head and Neck Centre as an example of a new patient- centric approach towards healthcare.

At the one-stop integrated facility, patients can receive holistic care for cancer and related conditions in the head and neck areas from different specialists on the same day.

Allied healthcare professionals will also conduct pre-surgery assessments and post-surgery rehabilitation.

At the centre's opening, Mr Gan spoke to about 600 participants of the second SingHealth Surgical Congress, to be held over the weekend.

Mr Gan also took a tour of the new centre's 24-hour Surgical Simulation Laboratory, where he had a turn at the endoscopy and endovascular simulators.

Associate Professor Andrew Tan, the director of SSSC, said 80 per cent of the equipment in the simulation laboratory is new.

"We want to create an environment that is as close to the real situation as possible, so that doctors can sharpen their skills before they actually use them on patients."

Beyond surgeons, nurses and medical students, the centre hopes to train procedural specialists such as anaesthetists and respiratory physicians as well.

Yesterday, Mr Gan also announced that the inaugural Lee Seng Teik and Lee Hoo Leng Professorship in Plastic Surgery and Regenerative Medicine has been awarded to Professor Yann Barrandon, a French expert attached to SGH in 1991 to develop skin culture expertise.

Since then, skin grafts from the SGH lab have helped many burn victims in Singapore and the region.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 25, 2015, with the headline 'New centre to train doctors in surgical skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe