We're making sure planned hip and knee operations continue this winter

21 November 2018

Today, the first patients had their planned hip and knee operations at Kent and Canterbury Hospital as part of an exciting national pilot to improve care for orthopaedic patients.

The move of this surgery to Canterbury from William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, means East Kent Hospitals can continue to offer patients planned hip and knee surgery over winter. Traditionally, the NHS has to stop many planned operations over winter to prioritise beds for emergency patients, resulting in longer waits for surgery. The new, dedicated facility at Canterbury will mean operations can continue as usual.

The national pilot - part of the GIRFT (Getting it Right First Time) programme – aims to demonstrate that separating planned orthopaedic inpatient 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.

K&C’s St Lawrence Ward has been renovated to provide a dedicated 24-bed orthopaedic ward at the hospital. The ward, which opens on Wednesday 21 November, includes a patient gym for immediate physiotherapy following surgery.

After patients are discharged, they will have their follow-up appointments at their local hospital as usual.

The pilot, part of a wider plan to prepare for extra patients over winter at east Kent’s hospitals, will also free up operating theatre capacity at William Harvey Hospital for other specialties, improve access to cancer treatment and help to reduce the number of people waiting a long time for an operation.

Susan Acott, Trust Chief Executive says: “A huge amount of work is being done by teams across the Trust to get winter ready for patients.

“Moving planned hip and knee surgery to a dedicated service at Canterbury will mean we can continue to provide this surgery throughout the winter.

“We are also increasing capacity within east Kent for emergency patients. For example, we have secured over £6 million in national funding for new observation wards in the emergency departments at Ashford and Margate. This will create more space so that patients needing observation can be cared for in a more appropriate environment and release much-needed space in our emergency departments.”

The Trust is seeking funding to put in place the main orthopaedic pilot project which involves building four modular laminar-flow operating theatres at K&C. This will enable all patients having planned orthopaedic inpatient operations in east Kent to have their procedures in new, dedicated facilities at K&C during the pilot period.