It has clearly been a difficult year. As the official training arm of the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland, we believe that the Dukes’ Club has strongly supported and represented trainees throughout the year. Here, we review our activities during 2020.

Dukes’ COVID-19 Taskforce

The Dukes’ COVID-19 Taskforce was set up in March. This taskforce has worked alongside ASiT and ACPGBI in representing colorectal trainee views on a range of training issues including progression of training, FRCS examinations, ARCPs and CCT competencies. Our key priorities during the first wave of COVID-19 were to support colorectal surgery trainees to continue delivering high quality emergency and elective services and to maintain trainee well-being. We launched our Keeping Well Podcast series during this time to support and maintain well-being – a total of nine podcasts on a variety of aspects of well-being including managing stress, kindness, human factors, resilience and leadership. We continue to work hard to ensure that high quality training and research is maintained and trainee progression is enabled as the pandemic continues.

Dukes’ Educational Strategy

Throughout the year we worked hard to deliver high quality educational content. In the early new year we delivered subspecialty events across the UK in advanced cancer, pelvic floor and emergency surgery and ran our first ‘Consultant Interview Preparation’ course in February. Unfortunately we had to cancel our annual education weekend, but instead launched our virtual educational strategy. This started with a series of virtual cadaveric sessions, debates on controversial topics and radiology teaching in advanced CRC, delivered in association with the ACPGBI Advanced Malignancy Subcommittee. In July, the Dukes’ Club enjoyed a successful and integrated programme at the virtual ACPGBI Fringe, co-chairing and presenting in many sessions across the busy week’s programme. We are grateful to Professor Nancy Baxter who delivered a stunning lecture for this year’s Dukes’ keynote lecture titled ‘Reflections on a career training tomorrow’s colorectal surgeons.’ More recently we have launched our ‘Colorectal Classroom’ series, with the first two events well attended and very well received. Look out for the next instalment in the early new year!

Dukes’ Virtual Week

The September Dukes’ Club virtual event was our biggest educational event to date, with over 1000 delegates registering for sessions across a jam-packed exhausting but inspiring week. We are hugely grateful to our brilliant speakers and generous sponsors, and to ACPGBI for their support in delivering this fantastic event. Every day of the virtual week saw a varied assortment of operative video sessions, Spotlight sessions, training hacks and keynote lectures. A full report is available here.

Colonoscopy Training

We are delighted that the new UK General Surgical curriculum now includes an indicative requirement of 200 diagnostic colonoscopies for surgical trainees who have declared colorectal as their subspecialty interest. This change reflects years of hard work by the Dukes’ Club and indicates the JCST’s commitment to colonoscopy training. However, we are aware that many of our members have experienced increasing difficulty in accessing colonoscopy training opportunities and achieving accreditation – challenges that have been acutely accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working hard together with the ACPGBI Colonoscopy and Education and Training committees to improve exposure and opportunities and will soon publish a joint statement on colonoscopy training in Colorectal Disease.

Industry Partnership

Our platinum industry sponsor during 2020 has been Ethicon. Our expansion in portfolio has been generously supported by a number of industry partners including Ethicon, Cook Medical and THD. We welcome Intuitive Surgical as our latest industry partner in 2020. We have strengthen our relationships with all industry partners over the last 12 months which has enabled us to provide a range of high quality teaching and educational opportunities to our membership.

Future Plans

Overall, we have enjoyed a very successful year despite difficult circumstances, with the significant expansion of our portfolio of physical and virtual activities on a regional and national scale. We will continue to build on our successes over the last 12 months to deliver high quality, innovative educational and research opportunities to our membership. Please do complete our survey to tell us what you want from the Dukes’ Club.