• The aim of this study was to identify changes in the provision of parotid, submandibular and thyroid gland surgery between surgical specialties since 1989, as well as changes in surgical practice.
• Data from the Department of Health's Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) was extracted from 1989/1990 and 2003/2004 records by operation and surgical specialty in England.
• The data reveals a considerable decline in the amount of parotid and submandibular surgery performed by General surgeons; with the majority of this surgery currently being performed by ENT surgeons, and to a lesser extent, Oral and Maxillo-Facial surgeons.
• Thyroid surgery has undergone less radical change, with General surgeons continuing to perform the majority of cases; however, an increasing proportion is now provided by ENT surgeons.
• There also seems to be changes in the types of thyroid operation being performed; with large increases in total thyroidectomy and reductions in subtotal thyroidectomies.