1,000 patients helped back on their feet again thanks to national pilot at Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Grace Williamson
Our 1000th joint replacement patient Mrs Williamson with Dr Vanessa Purday, Clinical Director for Surgery and Anaesthetics

Published on 20 November 2019

Staff at Kent and Canterbury Hospital welcomed their 1,000th joint replacement patient on Tuesday (19 November 2019), a year to the week since these types of operations started at the hospital as part of a national pilot to treat more orthopaedic patients sooner.

Mrs Grace Williamson, 83, who lives near Faversham, was greeted with a gift from the surgical team before undergoing a two-hour operation to replace her left hip.

Months of debilitating pain led to the gradual loss of Mrs Williamson’s independence and she became increasingly reliant on family and friends for everyday activities.

A great-grandmother and keen gardener, she said: “The pain stole my independence and stopped me from doing things I love. I’m look forward to getting my independence back so I can get myself to the shops, visit friends and relatives and get back to gardening.”

Mrs Williamson thanked hospital staff for giving her the chance of a new lease of life. “I am sure the staff are as thrilled that they can help people like me as I am thrilled that they are here. I don’t know what I’d do without them.”

Since November 2018, patients previously treated at William Harvey Hospital (WHH) have had their planned hip and knee operations in dedicated facilities at the Kent and Canterbury (K&C).

As a result operations continued throughout winter and were not delayed due to emergency patients needing beds.

Alex Chipperfield, Orthopaedic Surgeon and members of the surgical team at Elective Orthopaedic Centre
In the pilot’s first year more than 1,600 patients have their planned lower limb operations sooner, including 1,000 patients who have had hip or knee replacements and 600 other routine lower limb operations.

Waiting times for knee replacements have reduced by nearly 12 weeks and nearly seven weeks for hip replacements. The overall number of patients waiting for these operations has reduced by more than a third.

The freed up operating theatres at WHH has also resulted in almost 1,500 more patients have had their trauma, gynaecology and general surgical operations sooner, as well as releasing an extra ward at WHH for patients with medical emergencies.

Following the success of the first year, four new operating theatres are being built at K&C so that by Spring 2021 all patients needing planned orthopaedic inpatient operations in east Kent will be treated in new and improved facilities at the hospital. Building work is due to start next year.

Susan Acott, Chief Executive for East Kent Hospitals said: “We are proud of our hard-working staff and 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. By investing in new operating theatres and further dedicated beds at Kent and Canterbury Hospital we will be able to treat even more patients needing operations sooner at all hospitals in east Kent.”

The pilot, part of the national Getting it Right First Time programme, aims to demonstrate that carrying out planned orthopaedic operations, such as hip and knee replacements, at a separate hospital to emergency operations, benefits both sets of patients.

Where these changes have been introduced, both in east Kent and elsewhere in the country, waiting times have reduced and fewer operations have been cancelled.