Intended for healthcare professionals


Surgeons should have to demonstrate competence as pilots do

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 22 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1145
  1. Duncan Innes, head of charter team, NHS Executive (dinnes{at}
  1. 1 Montagu Place, Oakwood, Leeds LS8 2RQ

    EDITOR—As a private pilot, I have often said that the arrangements for pilots not only to train but to continue to show their competence are far more stringent than those for surgeons.1 The issue of public confidence is similar for both groups, so major differences are hard to explain. Pilots regularly have inspectors supervising and checking their work; the checks include how well the teamwork operates on the flight deck. This is accepted practice, and it could be argued that similar provisions should apply in the operating theatre.

    New European licensing arrangements require even part time private pilots to keep in practice, otherwise they cannot take passengers. Should surgeons be required to stay in practice for certain operations or not carry out the operation until they have been supervised and shown that they are up to date?


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