A new video network which allows postgraduate medical students throughout Scotland to watch operations while they are being carried out, was launched this week.
Michael Forsyth, secretary of state for Scotland, formally launched the Minimal Access Therapy Training Unit Scotland (Mattus) video network which links Scotland's three royal medical colleges and seven major hospitals.
Mattus, backed by Pounds 1.2 million from the Scottish Office and the Wolfson Foundation, is the brainchild of Alfred Cuschieri, professor of surgery at Dundee University and an expert in keyhole surgery techniques. Now director of Mattus, Professor Cuschieri chaired a working party which warned that specialist facilities were needed to train medical staff in laparoscopic and other minimally invasive techniques.
Trainees usually cluster round an operating table, but their view can be restricted. This is particularly problematic for laparoscopic techniques. The video network, with a split screen showing close-ups and an overview, allows them to see what is happening and to ask questions.
Norman MacKay, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, said: "The ability to 'participate' in surgical procedures by live video link will enhance the educational experience of trainees, whose time for practical training is under increasing pressure. The quality of images received and the live interactive audio facilities represent a considerable improvement on the 'looking over the surgeon's shoulder' of earlier years."
Sir Robert Shields, president of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, said it was now possible for all the Scottish colleges to share developments in surgical and medical training.