By Ian McConnell

A HOTEL owned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has been given the green light to host surgical students sitting exams – weeks ahead of hospitality formally reopening.
To be able to do so, Ten Hill Place Hotel in the Scottish capital's Old Town had to demonstrate its "stringent protocols" to senior health figures. Surgeons Quarter, which runs the 129-room hotel on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, declared this would allow it to "welcome around 100 exam-sitting surgeons at various stages of training throughout April, starting on Monday".

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A spokeswoman noted Scottish Government approval had been required for the exams to go ahead observing strict protocols. She said that, additionally, face-to-face education courses were going ahead as some could not be conducted remotely.
The spokeswoman added: “Exam candidates and the examiners conducting the exams will be staying in the hotel. As all involved are medical personnel they are deemed as key workers and it is permissible for them to stay in the hotel under the current hospitality restrictions.”
The hotel employs 60 staff. The spokeswoman said 55 employees were currently on furlough, and that at least 20 would be brought back to “facilitate these exam and educational bookings”.

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Bosses at Ten Hill Place, described as the city’s largest independent hotel, hope its opening to surgical students ahead of the proposed April 26 reopening of the hospitality sector to the "wider public" will reassure future guests.
Scott Mitchell, managing director at Surgeons Quarter, said: “First we had one of the top health officials in the country verify our procedures to enable us to host the next wave of surgical talent. Now we will have 100 unwavering critics ensuring that every aspect of their stay is as safe as possible, without losing that feeling of warm Scottish hospitality."

He added: “What this means, we sincerely hope, is that come April 26 onwards those wishing to visit Edinburgh will see that our team and hotel is ideally placed to ensure they can enjoy a safe and stress-free break.”

Surgeons Quarter noted it had, while also following official advice, implemented measures include the use of QR codes for collecting diners’ contact details, hand sanitiser stations around the hotel, and a "key card oven" for hands-free cleaning. The sanitising oven uses ultraviolet technology to stop the risk of cross-contamination from key cards being passed to different guests.

Mr Mitchell highlighted the amount of experience Surgeons Quarter was able to draw upon, from surgeons, clinicians and dentists.

He said: “We are uniquely placed here at Surgeons Quarter that we have access to the experience of the membership of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. 

“We can draw on clinical and medical input to enhance everything that we are doing in these times. Of course, we follow all Government advice and industry protocols but we further benefit from the experience of surgeons, clinicians and dentists. If they feel we are doing everything we can, I see this as a great endorsement for all guests to feel comfortable within Ten Hill Place”.

Surgeons Quarter noted Ten Hill Place had emained open from March to May last year to provide 2,137 free nights of accommodation and thousands of meals to frontline NHS workers during amid the pandemic – "at a cost of more than £100,000 to the charitable organisation".