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Waiting lists halved for North Cumbria's patients needing new hips and knees

Thursday, 03 July, 2014
Waiting lists halved for North Cumbria’s patients needing new hips and knees

Patients from across North Cumbria who have been waiting for joint replacement surgery are benefitting from the close partnership working with the Trust’s acquisition partner Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

During 2013, over 500 patients were able to have their procedure at Hexham General Hospital, helping to ease pressure on busy orthopaedic teams in Carlisle and Whitehaven and, most importantly, ensure patients are seen quickly and within nationally recommended timescales.

Surgeons from Northumbria Healthcare have been working closely with the orthopaedic team at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust to put on extra weekend theatre lists in Hexham and have also dedicated their time to hold outpatient clinics at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle at weekends to make sure patients have their treatment quickly and as much support locally as possible.

This close working has helped significantly reduce the number of North Cumbria patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for their planned orthopaedic operation from 315 in January 2013 to just 154 by December 2013.

National NHS guidelines state that 90 per cent of all patients waiting for hip or knee replacement operations should have their procedure within 18 weeks of referral from their GP.

Thanks to joint working with the Northumbria team, many orthopaedic patients from North Cumbria have been choosing to travel to Hexham General Hospital if it means they can have their treatment quicker.

Partnership working between the two Trusts, who were officially ‘buddied’ by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in September 2013 pending the full acquisition, has been welcomed by both patients and staff.

Dave Caryl, 63, of Burgh by Sands, near Carlisle, had his left knee replacement at Hexham General Hospital on Sunday 16 February just eight weeks after referral from his GP and choosing to travel for his care in Hexham.

After benefiting from Northumbria’s award-winning fast-track programme, he was walking on his new knee within hours of his operation and was discharged home two days after his surgery.

Dave, a former school teacher, said: “It’s fantastic that the North Cumbria and Northumbria hospitals are now working so closely together for the benefit of patients and to reduce waiting times for people living in Cumbria.

“Living with joint problems causes excruciating pain and in my view the sooner people can have their operations the better.  I chose to come to Hexham after the many recommendations from friends and family who have recently had their care here and I have to say it has been exceptional.

“I have been particularly impressed by every member of staff I have come into contact with at Hexham – they have all gone out of their way to do their best for me.

“The ongoing work with Northumbria Healthcare is really positive news for people in North Cumbria and I hope we will see this level of fast-track care being provided locally in Cumbria in future.”

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and Clinical Director Mr Dave Mackay is working closely with colleagues from Northumbria Healthcare and the North Cumbria team to grow the orthopaedic offering in Cumbria.

Dave said: “Improving our performance against national standards has been the absolute priority since the publication of the Keogh review last year and it’s great to know we have the support of Northumbria and that we are working as part of a much bigger network to give patients more choice about how quickly they can have their surgical procedure.

“We have recently introduced enhanced recovery techniques at our hospitals in Cumbria for people having hip or knee replacements and this is something that our colleagues in Hexham do exceptionally well and that we can continue to learn from.

“Much like Northumbria’s model, when our new West Cumberland Hospital opens in 2015, our aim is to provide exactly the same high quality experience of planned orthopaedic care right here in Cumbria.”

Northumbria Healthcare’s fast track hip and knee replacement surgery is recognised nationally as a revolutionary method.  Many patients are now able to walk out of hospital unaided just 24 hours after their operation with full rehabilitation and support at home instead of a six to ten day hospital stay.

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 full general anaesthetic which requires a longer recovery time for patients.

Mr MacKay and his team have recently begun using the same technique in North Cumbria and with the continued support of colleagues at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; this is a service which he hopes to grow even further.