Surgery students have lost the ability to perform simple tasks like stitching and sewing up patients because they spend so little time using their hands and so much time staring at screens, a professor has warned. Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College, London, believes the quest for academic knowledge has come at the expense of physical dexterity. He told the BBC: “It is a concern of mine and my scientific colleagues that whereas in the past you could make the assumption that students would leave school able to do certain practical things – cutting things out, making things – that is no longer the case.”Prof Kneebone says he has seen a decline in the ability of students to perform manual skills over the past decade.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––While historically these skills might once have been gained by cutting textiles, measuring ingredients or repairing things in the house by delving into the toolbox and using basic woodwork techniques to fix things, technology has taken over, Prof Kneebone says. “A lot of things are reduced to swiping on a two-dimensional flat screen,” he told the BBC, compromising young people’s ability to develop their motor skills which has led to them becoming “less competent and less confident” in using their hands. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. With a surgeon’s ability to perform intricate movements with their hands just as important as their subject knowledge, Imperial College has been forced to think outside the box.It has called in magicians in an attempt to reverse the trend, by getting students to learn how to listen intently and shape their hands in a way that is needed to trick an audience – something Prof Kneebone believes is transferable to the operating theatre. Later on Tuesday, speaking at the V&A Museum of Childhood in east London, Prof Kneebone will address a report calling for an increase in creativity in the curriculum because “We have students who have very high exam grades but lack tactile general knowledge”.