Consultant Fani Kokka

‘I feel lucky to be in such good hands’

The first patients to go home the same day as a hysterectomy operation say they would recommend the experience to everyone.

Maternity care assistant Patricia Orchard and landscape gardener Faye King were among the first women to have a hysterectomy via keyhole surgery at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate and be discharged the same day.

Typically, people spend one night after laparoscopic surgery and longer after open surgery following the procedure to remove the uterus and the cervix, but research suggests people can recover faster at home, in familiar surroundings and with support from family and friends.

Patricia, 57, who lives near Ashford and works at the William Harvey Hospital, wanted to get home to help care for her disabled daughter.

She said: “The consultant Fani Kokka asked how I would feel about going home that day and it suited me – I was happy to stay in if there were any problems but it was a straightforward procedure and I was walking around the ward that afternoon.;

“I think I really benefited from being at home; I couldn’t get comfortable the first night so I ended up sleeping in a reclining chair rather than bed and that wouldn’t have been an option in hospital.

“I was able to wash and dress myself; but I did need help caring for my daughter for a while as I wasn’t able to lift her.”

Patricia opted for a hysterectomy after experiencing heavy irregular bleeding, and after pre-cancerous cells were found on her cervix.

She said: “I didn’t want to go back on HRT and Miss Kokka gave me several options, including a hysterectomy.

“It seemed like the best choice as it alleviated any worries about the pre-cancerous cells returning, and there was no reason for me to need a uterus in future.”

Faye, 47, was diagnosed with endometrial cancer after having uterine polyps removed, and had a hysterectomy in February.

She said: “I have had some bad experiences in hospital in the past and when I knew I was going to have to go in I was terrified.

“But I wanted to have the procedure to make sure the cancer was all gone.

“I knew I wanted to go home as soon as I could; I really think it aids healing to be able to be in your own environment. As soon as I walked through the door my shoulders went down and I felt more relaxed.”

Faye, who lives in Canterbury, was supported by her partner Mark and her mum, as she was unable to lift anything heavier than a cup of tea for the first few days. But she made sure she kept as active as possible and now walks up to 40 minutes a day.

She said: “You do have to be quite courageous to opt to go home but I felt I had more freedom to recover, and to potter around.

“I found just walking from room to room really helped with the pain, and my body was happier being able to move.

“When you have had major surgery, your mind can instantly go to the worst-case scenario if you had a little niggle, but I felt supported and reassured by the oncology team at QEQM who were just so lovely.

“I am incredibly grateful and I feel very lucky that I was in such good hands, that I was listened to and had such personalised care, and that the cancer is all gone with no need for any further treatment.”

Miss Kokka, a consultant gynaecological oncologist, and Dr Valentina Neroli, a consultant anaesthetist, said there were many benefits to day-case laparoscopic hysterectomies.

They said: “We know being on a busy ward isn’t a relaxing and restful experience for everyone, and there is evidence that people can recover faster in their own surroundings.

“The decision will be different for each patient and does depend on individual circumstances but for people with the right support at home, who are otherwise fit and healthy, being able to leave hospital the same day can be beneficial.

“It allows us to provide a personalised care plan and to keep our hospital beds for the people who really need them, potentially helping to reduce our waiting lists at the same time.”

The consultants thanked the whole team for working together to introduce same-day discharges for laparoscopic hysterectomies, including theatre staff, the day surgery team, and women’s health managers.