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Surgery: Training

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN HL17231, tabled on 16 July 2019

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of introducing virtual reality learning to (1) aid surgical training, and (2) practice pioneering operations.

Answered on

25 July 2019

Health Education England (HEE)’s technology enhanced learning (TEL) Programme has developed a national framework for the delivery of simulation-based education. This framework is now in place and being applied across the country.

Part of this work has involved extensive stakeholder engagement and through this engagement, a number of examples of where virtual reality has successfully been used to support learning have emerged. In particular, HEE East of England is piloting facilitated virtual reality learning for 1,200 Foundation Programme trainee doctors in 20 critical emergency scenarios in the East of England. This enables real time practice in a safe simulated environment with both facilitated supervised training and also personal unlimited access. A careful evaluation will be carried out, looking at both the trainee experience of learning through virtual reality and their subsequent improvement in confidence in urgent care management.

In addition, the TEL Programme has supported the development of a virtual reality lab in Torbay, which is now in its second year. Successful examples of virtual reality in distraction therapy have emerged, particularly in paediatrics and podiatry, with clear benefits to patients undergoing the clinical intervention and costs savings because of the reduction in general anaesthetics.

The TEL Programme has now set up an academic partnership with Leeds Institute and through this partnership, will be developing a set of principles for the use of virtual reality in education and training. Through this work, the TEL Programme will be developing a cohesive approach for evaluation of outcomes, which will then enable consistency in evidence gathering.