Vascular Surgery Training Programme

Vascular Surgery Training

The KSS training programme in General Surgery is a six year programme which recruits one Vascular Surgery trainee post per year and is led by David Gerrard, Training Programme Director, to find out more about his role, visit the Meet the Team webpage.

The updated surgical syllabus is due to start for Higher Surgical Training in October 2021 and the detail of this will alter the structure of training to a degree but the full detail is not available at the time of writing. The implementation of the new curriculum has been delayed for a year as a result of COVID-19.

Where do trainees train?

As a basic rule, placements will usually start on the first Wednesday of October each year. Most trainees will stay in the same hospital for twelve months. In line with the vascular curriculum, you will be required to do six months of GI surgery, six months or LGI and six months of UGI.  This may occur in your ST3 or ST4 year and will include GS on call.  For the remainder of your training, you will rotate between three vascular units, Brighton, Canterbury and Frimley Park Hospital.  It may be possible to spend one year of training in a London teaching hospital in the latter years of your training

The first two years of Higher Surgical Training are intended to give experience in the breadth of General Surgery and to familiarise yourself with access to the abdominal cavity in order to achieve exposure for open aorto-iliac procedures. As far as possible, these two years will be spent in the same Trust.

KSS is comprised of three relatively large counties which makes settling in one place very difficult.  The reconfiguration of vascular services has resulted in a greatly reduced number of vascular centres around the country.  In KSS, the programme was initially set up with five vascular units but last year, two of these units were closed.  The centres remaining are Brighton, Canterbury and Frimley Park, all serving populations of around 1.5m. It is likely you will spend two years in each unit. 

The specific Vascular training sites are:


  • Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury – East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust


  • Frimley Park Hospital, Frimley – Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust


  • Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton – Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust

Even if a trainee located geographically in the middle of these three Trusts, travel would be considerable (but not impossible) and it is probably more practical to rent in each location.

Following the staff wellbeing report by Health Education England in 2019, Trusts do recognise the responsibility to provide rest facilities and you should be given details of this provision at your induction to each Trust. All the hospitals in KSS apart from Brighton have capacity for car parking permits for new staff

To find out more about each training location, please visit the Local Education Provider webpage.

Teaching and Learning

ASPIRE courses

Throughout your HST vascular training, you will be invited to attend the ASPIRE courses.  One is held each year for each year group in different centres around the country.  The first, due to be held in Bristol this year, gives you an opportunity to meet the TPD, learn how the rotation functions and to understand what will be expected of you during the rotation. Each ASPIRE course covers progressively more complex aspects of vascular surgery, including cadaveric dissection, research principles and finally how to become a consultant. 

Regional Training Days

During the coronavirus pandemic all regional training was cancelled. To replace these sessions online tutorials have been launched. This ‘Bitesize’ programme is held on Zoom at 6pm every Thursday evening and available on YouTube afterwards. As with the training days, trainees are expected to attend as part of their Global Objectives towards their ARCP progression. The success of this programme is likely to lead to a more permanent move away from face to face regional training days, although some will hopefully return to the calendar as restrictions are lifted.

The Surgical Training Committee (STC)

The STC is composed of Surgical Consultant leads from each Trust, the Head of School, Healthcare Education Team administrative staff, the two Training Programme Directors, an SAC liaison member and trainee representatives from the east and west placements.  We feel this is a responsive committee and feedback from trainees is encouraged.  In the past, this has led to various changes, which we think has improved the standard of training. The Head of School has also set up a shadow board, composed of trainee representatives from each Trust.  This has been warmly welcomed by trainees and is another means of ensuring that problems and ideas for improving training are fed back to the highest levels of the Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education department.


Collaborative research among trainees has developed across the country as a way of running high quality research projects by collecting data from many departments across departments, regions and internationally. Participation in these projects at a data collection level is a good introduction into how to organise research project and getting names associated with the papers that come from it (all participants in the collaboratives are usually index linked to any papers that are published as a result). Taking a leadership role in one of these research projects offers the opportunity to produce papers that will count towards CCT with the support of the collaborative.

The KSS Surgeons Research Collaborative website also has rich and valuable sources of information for all surgical trainees who are wishing to participate in audit and research activities within KSS. All trainees on the rotation are encouraged to get involved with this collaborative to support their work and the work of other collaboratives across the country.

Out of Programme (OOP)

There are a number of legitimate reasons to take time OOP during the rotation. It is unusual to do this in the first year, but for some trainees circumstances do warrant this.

All OOP requests are processed by the staff at HEE,KSS and have to be signed off by the Post-Graduate Dean. In most cases this is just a formality but there are certain circumstances when requests may be turned down, so nothing can be assumed until the final agreement has been given.

To find out more about OOP, visit the OOP webpage.

Less Than Full Time Training (LTFT)

HEE are keen to promote a healthy work/life balance for doctors in training and we envisage more trainees opting to enter LTFT training. There is a requirement to provide a well-founded individual reason to choose to work LTFT and the programme has to have the capacity to offer such arrangements. A request to work LTFT is not a guarantee that it will be offered and applications are categorised to determine which applications are given priority.

To find out more about LTFT, visit the LTFT webpage.