Our trauma and orthopaedic service is the largest in the North East. We treat disorders of bones and joints and carry out specialist surgery for upper and lower limb problems as well as spinal problems. Every year we carry out over 2,300 hip and knee replacements and we were among the first in the world to carry out fast-track joint replacement which has halved the recovery times and reduced complications for our patients.
We are one of only a few hospitals trusts in the country offering surgery for young adult hip problems, dealing with challenging conditions including soft tissue problems and early arthritis.
We take part in a nationwide survey where we ask our patients to record the effectiveness of their surgery on their quality of life (known as patient reported outcome measures). Our patients rated us "officially better than expected for improvement" for hips and knees in the latest independent report from the North East Quality Observatory.
As well as ensuring that we provide an excellent service to our current patients, we are looking to the future too and have developed a very successful research department and where appropriate many patients are invited to participate in ground breaking studies. We have many studies running within Northumbria, but also contribute to national and international multi-centre research projects.
Fast-track hip and knee replacement
If you need a hip or knee replacement, your consultant will discuss with you whether you are suitable for our fast-track surgery. This revolutionary new method of carrying out hip and knee replacements, has seen some of our patients walk out of hospital unaided just 24 hours after their operation instead of the usual six days.
The key to its success is using a low dose spinal anaesthetic and a powerful local anaesthetic that numbs the area being operated on rather than a general anaesthetic where you are asleep.
If you are suitable for this surgery, you will be given lots of information on what to expect and how quickly you will recover. You will be admitted, have your operation on the same day and, with the help of our physiotherapy and nursing team, be up walking just a few hours later.
Early mobilisation with physiotherapy and nursing assistance is fundamental to speedy recovery and reduced complications. Patient participation in the recovery process is fundamental. You, the patient, are a very active partner in the journey and not just a passenger.
Please take a look at our video for more information on this procedure – click here.
Our enhanced recovery program has won many awards and we run regular training events to help other units follow our lead.
We also have done much work to improve the experience of transition from hospital to home after your surgery and have a dedicated helpline should there be any worries or if required daily drop in clinics for urgent review. Our program of discharge and communication was recognised winning a National Patient Experience Network award.
We have been recognised nationally for our treatment of emergency hip fractures- with North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals rated in the top 5 in the country.
In addition our team was named the best at delivering high quality measurable care in the NHS England Compassion in Care awards 2014. And we were highly commended in the Health Service Journal awards 2013 for secondary care service redesign.
Our team play an active role in research which helps keep the department up to date. Our consultants and our patients work with seven research nurses on a large variety of national projects. Each year the team co-authors a large number of research publications.
Clinics and surgery
Clinics are run at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals and in our community hospitals at Berwick Infirmary, Blyth Community Hospital, Morpeth Cottage Hospital and Rothbury Community Hospital. In addition we have a telemedicine clinic for patients in the Berwick area to be seen with a physiotherapist and nurse in Berwick Infirmary over a live video link to the consultant in Wansbeck. This not only saves a huge amount of travelling time, it has proven very popular with patients.
Wherever possible you will have a choice of appointment time and we regularly run evening clinics to fit in with your work. At times clinics can be very busy, and we ask patients to understand that often an appointment may require more than just seeing the doctor such as an x-ray, blood tests or an ECG, so your slot with the doctor may not be at the exact time of the appointment.
Planned surgery is performed at Hexham, North Tyneside, Wansbeck and Alnwick, and some specialised procedures at the new emergency care hospital in Cramlington. You can choose where to have your operation unless your particular type of procedure requires a specific hospital.
At Alnwick Infirmary we can perform operations for patients who are suitable for day case surgery in our state-of-the-art theatre. This would include many upper limb operations, back injections, knee surgery (including cruciate ligament surgery) and foot and ankle surgery.
Given that the consultants work at multiple sites it is not always possible to see your consultant everyday. We work very closely as a team and there is always one of the team on hand to ensure things are progressing satisfactorily.
We are a very active training department with doctors at all stages of training working in the team, however your care will always be under the supervision of the consultant. We are very proud of the quality training we provide and North Tyneside was recently recognised by the General Medical Council as the best in the country for the quality of training for our orthopaedic surgeons of the future.