This first TSS visit to Coventry was attended by 28 members of whom at least five surgeons were in active NHS practice, and most others undertake various allied work. The meeting was hosted by Joe and Rachael Hardwicke. Linda de Cossart was President whilst Simon Mellor was the Secretary, due to yield to Graham Sunderland. The group stayed at the Coombe Abbey Hotel on the edge of Coventry.
The visit was under the auspices of the NHS Trust of the United Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW). The Academic meeting in the Clinical Sciences Building of the University Hospital covered advances in orthopaedics, immuno-oncology and reconstructive breast surgery, robotic colorectal surgery, minimally invasive vascular surgery and how logistically to deliver major trauma care, all of which the Trust was spear-heading enthusiastically.
The lunchtime Grand Round was presented by the TSS President whose ‘Surgeon’s Retrospective’ was a heartfelt plea to support juniors in their training and generate deliberative rather than formulaic thinking, with a backward glance at the old ‘firm’ structure which it is acknowledged has gone forever, to the regret of many. The Trust goes to great lengths to place the patient at the centre of all healthcare, and is committed to ‘Empowering Staff, Putting Patients First’, so her presentation was apposite and well received. We then toured the Surgical Training Centre where demonstrators were on hand to help students who, armed with detailed paperwork, scrutinised plastinated anatomical specimens that owed much to Body Worlds in Germany, which had close contacts with the UHCW’s Professor of Anatomy Richard Tunstall. Seven innovative presentations for the Trainee Prize included ones from a midwife, a medical student and a scientist. The first and last presentations were by orthopaedic trainees: the final one, by the winner Tim Barlow, showed from published studies that the pre-operative expectations of patients can determine functional outcome but not patient satisfaction, provoking audience discussion around informed consent.
On the first TSS evening the Alan Green Lecture, attended by all, was on The Birmingham Burn Archive by our host Joe Hardwicke. The final talk of the visit was by Professor Chris Imray (Professor of Altitude Medicine) on Frostbite at the well-attended formal dinner at historic Warwick Castle. The social side had begun with a guided tour of Coventry’s cathedral site where the world famous prize-winning replacement by Sir Basil Spence stands proud and innovative at the northern edge of the retained shell of the old, the pair being a monument to reconciliation after the devastation of World War Two (Dresden especially). The modern building was fronted by a winged St Michael standing over a reclining devil, sculpted of his own volition by Sir Jacob Epstein who died soon after. The next day partners visited Stratford-upon-Avon, where thespian secrets were divulged. At the AGM on our final morning Graham Sunderland took over as Secretary. We then dispersed, of whom a group of six went on to visit Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park.
The impression from our two days was of a thriving, pioneering surgical centre in a remarkable city with a fascinating past and enterprising hope for the future.