Eric Drabble

Consultant oncoplastic, breast and general surgeon since 1997. Chair Peninsula Breast Cancer Network 2006-2012. South West Regional Symptomatic Representative ABS @ BASO 2006-2011. Member Plymouth Hernia service 2000 onwards. Founding member South West Oncoplastic Breast Surgeons (SWOBS). Director Peninsula Breast and General Surgery Ltd.

 Eric Drabble is the lead clinician for development and delivery of the long established Intercollegiate Basic Surgical Skills course, and new Surgical Skills for Students and Healthcare Professionals, for the Royal College of Surgeons of England.  He has been extensively involved in the delivery, supervision, and now development of these courses aimed at developing safe, basic surgical skills of surgical trainees, medical students, and all healthcare professionals for more than 20 years.  He is delighted to be able to take part in this new project, to deliver practical, surgical tuition using a new format and technology that can overcome the potential barriers of distance and language.  We can now demonstrate and teach practical skills, at a location and time convenient to you, using our internet based tools, and even overcome potential language barriers using our facilities.

Eric has been a consultant surgeon in the NHS, and in private practice for 23 years, and actively involved in practical courses, as well as tuition in the operating room environment for more than 20 years.  He has been performing surgery for 36 years.  He is passionately committed to helping young surgeons, medical students and healthcare professionals develop their basic surgical and practical skills.  Over his extensive surgical career, he has noted that it is essential to provide trainees with a firm foundation of safe, basic skills, to help them develop their careers, and avoid pitfalls and complications that could otherwise be avoided.

David Finch

BSc (Hons), MBChB, MRCS (Edinburgh. ST6 Registrar in Colorectal and General Surgery, North West of England Deanery.

David has maintained a keen and enthusiastic approach to teaching and training throughout his career to date. Having undertaken the Royal College of Surgeons Training the Trainers. Developing teaching skills course, he regularly delivers structured teaching sessions to his peers. He prides himself on giving effective feedback to aid learners’ development. Previously a faculty member for the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh) Basic Surgical Skills course, outside of medicine he applies his strengths in teaching and training as a qualified British Judo Association coach. Both roles have proved pivotal in perfecting his ability to deliver skills-based teaching. David is passionate about improving surgical education. He is actively involved in research into advancing and identifying new teaching and training techniques. Most recently publishing an innovative randomised controlled trial demonstrating benefits of 360-degree virtual reality video for the acquisition of knot tying skills.
As a current surgical trainee, he has first-hand experience of the challenges facing surgical trainees in achieving, maintaining and excelling in their competence. He is excited to be part of the Virtualive team helping trainees overcome some of these challenges and to maximise their potential through the online learning platform.

Why OnLine

In the current environment, it is becoming increasingly difficult for trainees to gain and practice basic skills, and establish these through repetition, observed and honed by their trainers, and the recent crisis caused by the pandemic has only exacerbated this situation. The crisis has also limited normal surgical and interventional activity, and may have affected abilities of more established surgeons and clinicians to maintain the fluidity and expertise of their basic skills. 

Eric fervently believes that this option we can offer you can help you overcome many of the barriers you may face in acquiring and developing your practical skills, under observation and critical assessment, and help prevent you developing bad habits that would be more difficult to eradicate later in your career.  He also looks forward to providing you with mentoring should you desire; mentoring can be more difficult for trainers and senior surgeons to provide in this increasingly difficult, practical training environment.  Our option allows a more convenient and compassionate option.

This option also provides those with more experience an opportunity to practice and review their basic skills, and seek tips and advice to refine them.  We would be delighted to aid our colleagues


Only qualified and expert teachers

We as a group, of surgeons dedicated to teaching health care professionals and helping them develop their craft, and colleagues with a zest for delivery and development of audiovisual methods of demonstrating and delivering courses, share a passion for teaching practical surgical and interventional skills, and supporting and mentoring you as an individual, during your training and development. We see this as a vocation, and wish not only to demonstrate techniques, but help each individual acquire these, and become proficient and confident with them. We believe what we can provide could benefit all health care professionals engaged in any interventional procedures, regardless of their seniority, post and experience.


Virtual Tuition

To achieve that, we not only provide demonstrations of basic techniques, filmed from several different angles, but also offer the option of tuition in these techniques, with a session, or number of sessions as you feel you require, and options for future revision, or even one-to-one tuition if you desire. We want to offer the option of mentoring you as you develop. We believe this is an important option we can offer; we have certainly observed an increasing physical separation of students from lecturers during this current crisis, as many students are now taught online rather than at physical venues, and observed a reduction in personal mentoring of students and trainees even prior to this crisis. We increasingly rely on virtual methods of teaching and lecturing, but we wish to revive, and offer, a personal connection with our new virtual teaching package. As a surgeon who has dedicated more than two decades to teaching trainees basic, safe skills, I believe this is important. We have seen a dilution of the personal commitment and connection we associated with the old apprenticeship environment we associated with surgical and interventional training. We hope to offer some degree of that with our unique virtual training environment.

Filmed Skills

We have filmed each skill from four different angles, deliberately breaking each technique down into its constituent parts, and performing each slowly, so that each manoeuvre can be clearly demonstrated. Viewing them from different angles can help you appreciate how they are performed. We have also endeavoured to demonstrate meticulous techniques; we want to show you, and teach you, how to perform basic skills well. Our aim is to provide you the opportunity to develop a foundation layer of sound and safe skills for the rest of your careers.

This set of videos, and associated tutorial, or set of tutorials, give you every chance of acquiring, or revising these skills, even in this difficult period when opportunities to learn or practice are now limited.  This new method of demonstrating skills from several angles can definitely help compensate for the lack of theatre time and practice, imposed by the current covid crisis. They are designed to provide you with a comprehensive set of techniques of tying secure and reliable surgical knots, suitable for modern suture materials. These materials are more biofriendly, producing much less of a reaction in the body than older materials, but can be more difficult to tie secure and reliable knots with than previous materials.  The techniques demonstrated allow you to overcome this potential issue, allowing you to produce secure and reliable knots, with a variety of materials, and in a variety of surgical situations.  The video can be combined with an online tutorial, or set of tutorials, to help you develop your skills, and allow them to be individually honed and perfected through an online tutorial, or set of tutorials.  We also offer the option of revising your skills on an annual basis, helping you to iron out any bad habits you may inadvertently develop during your subsequent application of your new skills, or prevent them developing in the first place!