What is a General Surgeon?

There are ten recognised surgical specialities1 in England, of which, general surgery is one. As the name suggests, General Surgeons treat a wide variety of conditions and unlike some other specialities work with the patient before, during and after their surgery. They are especially involved in conditions relating to organs in the abdomen such as liver, stomach, rectum, small and larger intestine, spleen, appendix, pancreas and bile ducts. However, they also deliver the surgical treatment of: 

  • Endocrine system 
  • Soft tissue, skin and breast 
  • Alimentary tract (esophagus and related organs) 
  • Vascular surgery 
  • Trauma and burns 
  • Head and neck surgery 
  • Paediatric surgery 
  • Surgical critical care 
  • Surgical oncology 

Common Procedures 

General Surgeons often treat conditions such as appendicitis, hernia repairs, gallbladder surgeries, stomach and intestinal issues2. They are also often highly experienced in keyhole surgery (formally known as laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery), a preferred method where possible as increases recovery time and minimises scarring for the patients.  


In the UK, many elective procedures carried out by General Surgeons, about 80%3, fall into these common procedures. However, most General Surgeons go on to develop a subspeciality. These subspecialities commonly include: 

  • Breast surgery – assessment, breast cancer surgery and breast reconstruction (where a plastic surgeon is not required) 
  • Lower gastrointestinal surgery – relating to colorectal surgery as well as surgery of the small intestine 
  • Upper gastrointestinal – relating to the liver, oesophagus and stomach 
  • Endocrine surgery – relating to the thyroids, parathyroid and adrenal glands  
  • Transplant surgery – commonly relating to kidney and liver transplants (but also including other transplants)  
  • Trauma (this is more common within the military) 

Where do General Surgeons Work? 

General Surgeons are a key role in A&E and are in high demand in rural areas due to their broad knowledge base.  

Training Required 

There are many steps before someone can become a qualified General Surgeon. 

  1. Firstly, they must complete a 5-year degree in medicine 
  2. Secondly, they follow a 2-year foundation programme in general training  
  3. Then there is a minimum of 2 years of core surgical training in hospitals  
  4. Finally, they complete up to 6 years of specialist training4  

What is a General Surgeon Expert Witness?  

An Expert Witness is a specialist within a certain field used to provide independent expert evidence to help the Court understand areas that is likely to be outside of the Judge/Jury’s knowledge (find out what makes a successful expert witness here). A General Surgeon Expert Witness is someone able to provide this evidence in relation to general surgery, this could either be in regards to personal injury or clinical negligence.   

Looking for an Expert? 

Max Almond is one of our Expert Witnesses who is a Consultant Surgeon (Surgical Oncology, Upper GI and General Surgery). His specialist areas within the field are abdominal trauma surgery, surgical oncology (soft tissue sarcoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumours, adrenal tumours and neuroendocrine tumours, emergency general surgery (appendicitis, bowel obstruction, peritonitis, jaundice), benign hepatobiliary surgery (laparoscopic cholecystectomy, ERCP), upper gastrointestinal surgery (hiatus hernia repairs, anti-reflux surgery, splenectomy), elective general surgery (open and laparoscopic hernia repairs, lipoma excision), diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy.

Click here to view his bio for more information on Max’s expertise or to instruct him.

[1] Surgical Specialties — Royal College of Surgeons (

[2] General surgery | Health Careers

[3] General Surgery — Royal College of Surgeons (

[4] Surgeon | Explore careers | National Careers Service

24 November 2021

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