The Severn and Peninsula Audit and Research Collaborative for Surgeons (SPARCS) is a trainee-led collaborative in the South West of England. It was set up by a small executive of general surgical registrars with the support of Professor Jane Blazeby. The current executive comprises Sarah Richards (SpR Pan-Regional), Steve Hornby (SpR Peninsula) and Natalie Blencowe (Academic SpR Severn).

SPARCS was formed following the success of the West Midlands Research Collaborative (WMRC), and capitalises on the natural network formed by trainees rotating through hospitals in the region. We have the following goals:

  • To undertake multi-centre audit and research in the field of general surgery, throughout hospitals in Severn and Peninsula deaneries
  • To establish a network of surgical trainees willing to collaborate with other trainees, consultants, methodologists and other members of trial steering committees
  • To provide research training in order to produce high quality output

Membership is open to all general surgical trainees in the region from CT1 onwards and if you wish to get involved, please contact us. Any input is welcomed and we are happy to support new quality multi-centre audit projects. Our current focus is now on commencing our own regional multi-centre randomized controlled trial and we will shortly be looking to expand our executive to help with this.

Completed audit projects:

Multicentre laparoscopic incisional hernia audit (LIHA): This project involved retrospective review of case notes and structured telephone follow-up of patients who had undergone a laparoscopic incisional hernia repair in the previous five years, with the aim of reporting current techniques, complication rates and patient satisfaction. It was selected as a poster of distinction at ASGBI 2012 and the full paper will be submitted for publication when completed.

We have also supported several other audit projects within the region that have yet to report findings.

Inter-collaborative work:

The SWIFT study (Shift Work Impact on Surgical Training): To establish the extent of knowledge current foundation year 1 doctors have of the acute general surgical patients for whom they are responsible and to investigate whether the extent of FY1s’ knowledge is related to whether they have clerked in the acute general surgical patients. This project was led by the West Midlands Audit and Research Collaborative (WMRC).

The ROSSINI Trial (Reduction Of Surgical Site Infection using a Novel Intervention): ROSSINI is a prospective, multicentre, observer-blinded randomised controlled trial which is led by the WMRC. It aims to establish whether the use of a wound-edge protection device in adult patients undergoing laparotomy leads to a lower rate of surgical site infection (SSI). Secondary outcomes to be explored include establishing the efficacy of the device against various degrees of wound contamination and related patient co-morbidity, as well as assessing the safety and cost-effectiveness of the device and implications for health-related quality of life. Several hospitals in the South West participated in this study and Derriford hospital (Plymouth) successfully randomised over 160 patients, making them the highest recruiters in the country!

Current projects:

  • Multicentre appendicectomy audit: this project was also initiated by the WMRC and aims to collect information regarding treatment modality and 30-day follow up data. Over fifty centres throughout the UK (and internationally) are participating and SPARCS members are successfully collecting data in most hospitals throughout the Severn and Peninsula deaneries.
  • Multicentre randomised trial: Following a deanery-wide competition for RCT ideas, an outline proposal for funding has been submitted. Further information will appear here when available!

Contact details:

Website: www.sparcs.org.uk

Email: sparcsexec@gmail.com

Twitter: @SPARCSexec

The executive are also happy to be contacted directly.
Sarah Richards is currently working at RUH Bath,
Natalie Blencowe at the BRI/University of Bristol,
Steve Hornby at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth.