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Northumbria focused on recovery

Tuesday, 25 May, 2021
Northumbria focused on recovery

Patients in Northumberland and North Tyneside can be confident about accessing local healthcare services despite the impact of Covid19 over the last 14 months.

Since the start of the pandemic Northumbria Healthcare has been one of the best performing Trusts in the country and is now part of a new national scheme to help support initiatives that speed up access to treatment even further.


Despite this strong performance, the pressure on staff, beds and equipment meant some non-urgent care across the region had to be postponed during what was an unprecedented time for the NHS.


Hospitals in the region will now receive a share of £160m in plans announced by NHS England.


Across Northumbria the Trust is putting on extra surgical sessions and maximising the working week to see as many patients as possible.


A focus on innovation, day case surgery and making the best use of facilities across Northumberland and North Tyneside has helped keep waiting lists and times as short as possible given the context of a major pandemic.


Northumbria carried out more than 14,500 procedures or operations during the pandemic.

Sir James Mackey, chief executive said “To help keep things moving we’ve really focused on day case surgery and we’re probably doing around 3 times as many of these short, low length of stay operations as other areas.


“We have been able to do a large proportion of our elective activity compared to last year while urgent cancer operations, trauma surgery and orthopaedic surgery have never stopped.


“To help get even more patients through the system we’re now looking to expand our operating theatre footprint even further, using new equipment, increasing staffing by developing new apprenticeships, introducing new training posts and investing millions of pounds in new facilities.”


During the pandemic the emergency hospital in Cramlington was designated as the overall covid hub and geared up to take lots of extra patients, which meant that the Trust’s other hospital sites could keep elective and non-urgent operations going for as long as possible.


This meant that services to patients could continue safely with a range of safeguards in place so that procedures like endoscopy for example only stopped for two weeks during the lockdown.


The focus on day case surgery has been an innovation of the orthopaedic team developed over several years and means the Trust is able to treat more patients, maximise capacity and get people through the system faster.


Eliot Sykes, surgical business unit director at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “We welcome this funding and being chosen as an accelerator site as it will build on the incredible work that the team has achieved over the last year and enable us to further reduce the waiting times for our patients quicker. Our orthopaedics team, which is the fourth largest in the country, has been able to continue doing elective orthopaedic surgery over the last year. A remarkable achievement at such a difficult time. Our orthopaedic activity has been restored to historical levels and has been running throughout the second wave.”


Northumbria also has some of the best Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) in the country and is rated first in the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) rankings for day case surgery.


Other measures have included:

  • Virtual appointments have helped patients see medical professionals and also proved more convenient for many people by reducing the need to travel. It’s also helped the environment by reducing the number of miles travelled by staff and patients by more than 2.6 million.
  • Blood tests that would have been previously been done by GPs or nurses were done by pop-up phlebotomy clinics in the community, reducing the pressure on local surgeries.
  • A new system of direct advice and guidance linking GPs with hospital consultants has improved triage and helped support patients.
  • A strict testing and pre-operative self-isolation regime ensured elective patients could keep coming in to have their operations during the lock down.
  • Medics and nurses went through all waiting lists and utilised video conferencing to help patients better understand the balance of risk and provide reassurance about their procedure.
  • All theatre staff working for the hospital were restricted to one location to prevent the possible spread between sites.
  • A surgical site infection team rang every patient before their operation and then again 30 days later to build a better picture of how the system was working and improve patient flow through the hospitals.

Media contact

Ross Wigham

Deputy Director of Communications at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Tel: 0191 203 1664

Mobile: 07816 850159