UKSSB Quarterly eBulletin
January 2016





Professional Practice Issues

UKSSB Private Practice Advisory Group (PPAG)-Harshad Dabke Chair


In November 2015, the PPAG sent a letter to all Private Medical Insurers (PMIs) along with a proposal for the Common Platform Policy (CPP), aiming to improve standards of spinal care in the independent sector. The CPP sought to implement evidence based spinal practice in accordance with national and international guidelines by audit and whole practice appraisal, establishment of spinal networks, MDT meetings and use of British Spine Registry. It was proposed that PMI's should first raise issues relating to spinal surgical services with the UKSSB PPAG as mandated by the spinal surgical societies. These might include changes to codes, modifications to contractual terms, alteration of fee arrangements etc. It was acknowledged that the PPAG does not wish to negotiate fees but proposed that PMIs, Hospital Groups and surgeons could work towards developing a unified “Fee Matrix” consisting of the various and diverse parameters that are involved in delivering private surgical care.

In December, responses were received from BUPA, AXA, Spire, HCA, FIPO, and Aviva. All agreed in principle that quality of spinal care in independent sector needs to be improved but there was a lot of misunderstanding about the PPAG's proposals. The summary of responses was that while PMIs wished to keep their freedom to do business with whom they choose, they did not want any interference in their right to recognise surgeons. They were keen to see standards raised but not to pay for them!

The PMI's responses were discussed by the PPAG in a teleconference held on 18th January. It was felt that the group should not discuss fees and should only focus on quality, however it was appreciated that neither the PPAG, nor the spinal societies, had a regulatory role and were not in a position to enforce any measures on spinal surgeons in the independent sector. Therefore, further engagement with PMIs would not be fruitful, but no consensus was achieved. It was proposed that an online survey should be done to gauge the response of spinal surgeons to CPP before taking further steps, but again, no consensus was achieved. It was agreed that the PPAG would inform members of all 3 spinal surgical societies about the work undertaken till now and also present a summary in BritSpine. Further steps are actively being considered.

Training and Education

Spinal Surgery Training Interface Group (SSTIG)

Alistair Starling - Chair

Following a meeting of the RCS JCST interface group chairs in December there has been a significant rethink about the reorganisation of the Surgical Training Interface groups (STIGs) and a much improved governance structure is being proposed to JCST in April.  Accordingly moves are now afoot to set up a national spine fellowship programme through an education group including three Orthopaedic and three Neurosurgical representatives with research representation from SBPR.


BASS/BSS Presidents’ Travelling Fellowship, please see BASS or BSS websites.

Download information. (The Society for Back Pain Research Travel Fellowships 2016)

UKSSB SBPR Fellowships, please see SBPR website.

BOA Clinical Leadership Programme Fellowships - Following on from the success of the first Clinical Leaders Programme, the BOA has opened applications for the 2016/17 Programme.  The CLP offers further educational support with a specific focus on developing leadership within Trauma and Orthopaedics and related fields. For further details on the programme, including how to apply either as an individual or with support from your Trust, please visit the BOA website or contact policy@boa.ac.uk.

In addition UKSSB is sponsoring applications for members of SBPR, BASS, or BSS with a minimum of one per constituent society and depending on the quality of application consideration may be given to a second place. Membership of the BOA is a normal requirement for eligibility. Whether SBNS members could apply is being explored. For more information, please see UKSSB/BOA Fellowships.