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Patients treated sooner thanks to national pilot to improve orthopaedic care

More than 800 patients had their operations sooner this winter thanks to an exciting national pilot to improve orthopaedic care for patients.

Since last December, patients previously treated at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford (WHH) have had their planned inpatient orthopaedic operations, such as hip and knee replacements, in dedicated operating theatres at Kent and Canterbury Hospital (K&C) as part of the first stage of the pilot.

An extra 428 patients had their planned inpatient orthopaedic operations this winter compared to last winter. Between December 2018 and March 2019 the Trust carried out 1,479 planned inpatient orthopaedic operations, up from 1,051 during the same period the previous winter.

The pilot has also freed up operating theatre capacity at WHH, resulting in 387 more patients having their general surgical or trauma operations sooner. It has also helped to reduce the number of patients waiting over a year for their operation from 102 to 13 over the winter period. 

The pilot – part of the national NHS Getting it Right First Time (GIRFT) programme – aims to demonstrate that separating planned inpatient orthopaedic operations from emergency care benefits both sets of patients. Where these changes have already taken place in other parts of the country, waiting times have reduced, fewer patients have had their operations cancelled and recovery times are quicker.

Janice Bartolo from Aylesham praised the surgical team for giving her a new hip and a new lease of life after years of pain, following her operation at the Elective Orthopaedic Centre at K&C last week.

She described the care by nursing staff on St Lawrence Ward as ‘absolutely wonderful’ both day and night. St Lawrence Ward is a newly-renovated dedicated 24-bed orthopaedic ward, including a patient gym for immediate physiotherapy following surgery. 

Before Janice’s operation, crippling pain meant that everyday activities that she used to take for granted – putting shoes on, having a shower and even sleeping – became extremely challenging.

But with her new hip, Janice is determined to get back on her feet in plenty of time for her holiday in Majorca in September and a much longed-for trip to China to spend Christmas with her son who lives there.

Susan Acott, Chief Executive for East Kent Hospitals said: “Our hard-working staff are rightly proud of the improvements they are delivering for patients, helping to get more people back on their feet again sooner after major operations.

“We are delighted to be chosen to participate in this national pilot so that we can bring the benefits that patients are experiencing in other parts of the country to our patients in east Kent. We are working hard to secure funding to build more operating theatres at Kent and Canterbury Hospital to treat even more patients sooner.”

The Trust is seeking national NHS funding to put in place the second stage of the pilot which involves building four modular laminar-flow operating theatres and investing in wards at K&C. This will enable all patients having planned orthopaedic inpatient operations in east Kent to be treated in new and improved facilities at K&C during the pilot period. Patients will continue to be treated at WHH and QEQM for all emergency operations (for example fractures sustained in a fall). 

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