Published on 16 August 2021
Four new operating theatres have opened at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, dedicated to treating people needing planned orthopaedic surgery.
The Elective Orthopaedic Centre is the second phase of a national NHS Getting It Right First Time pilot in east Kent that aims to demonstrate that separating planned inpatient orthopaedic operations from emergency care benefits both sets of patients.
People who have their operations in the new centre are cared for on two newly renovated wards, Invicta and St Lawrence, freeing up theatres and beds at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate for trauma and cancer surgery.
The first patient to go under the knife in one of the brand-new theatres was mum and grandmother Maureen Andrews, 69, who had surgery to relieve pressure on nerves in her spine.
Mrs Andrews, who lives in Folkestone Road, Dover, said: “I felt really honoured to be the first ever patient in the new centre.
“I felt a bit like royalty; everyone was so lovely and welcoming and it was very safe and clean
“I was a bit nervous but I really wanted to get it done.”
She had been suffering from pain and numbness in her legs and feet that left her relying on painkillers and unable to go out for more than half an hour at a time.
Steroid injections and other treatment had not worked, so consultant Omar Yanni, East Kent Hospitals’ lead doctor for trauma and orthopaedics, decided an operation gave the best chance of being able to live a normal, active, life again.
The procedure, on Wednesday, 4 August, took several hours but Mrs Andrews was able to go home the following day, where daughter Claire moved in to care for her as she recovered.
She said: “My family are very supportive and I can always rely on all of them. Claire has been fantastic at looking after me and all the staff on the ward and in the centre were fantastic.
“Now I am hoping to be well enough to go to my granddaughter’s 18th birthday party next week.”
The centre will treat around 3,500 people a year and was officially opened by Trust chief executive Susan Acott at a Covid-safe ceremony attended by Professor Tim Briggs CBE, national director of clinical improvement for the NHS as well as staff from across the Trust.
Julia Blackwood, general manager for trauma and orthopaedics, said the team was looking forward to being able to help even more patients.
She said: “Everyone on the team is extremely excited that the centre is now open as they can all see the real benefits that it will bring. I’d like to thank all of the staff involved in getting us to this point.”