A hospital site in Devon that is helping to reduce planned care waiting lists has received national recognition for meeting top clinical and operational standards.
The South West Ambulatory Orthopaedic Centre (SWAOC) at the Nightingale Hospital in Exeter is one of eight to be awarded accreditation as part of a pilot scheme.
The Nightingale Hospital originally opened as a COVID-19 hospital to support the country’s response to the first wave of the pandemic.
After being decommissioned as a COVID hospital, the site was transformed into a state-of-the-art facility and is now home to a range of orthopaedic, ophthalmology, diagnostic, and rheumatology services.
SWOAC, which has two operating theatres for day case and short stay elective orthopaedic procedures, opened at the Nightingale site in March 2022.
Since then, almost 1,000 patients have been through its doors for hip and knee replacements. Also during this time, SWAOC has been highly commended in the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards in the Acute Sector Innovation of the Year and Safe Restoration of Planned Elective Care categories, and won the National Orthopaedic Association’s Partnership and Integration Innovation Award.
This is national recognition for the transformational change in providing safe, short-stay, high-volume hip and knee replacement for Devon patients, and supporting the safe recovery orthopaedic services and reduction in waiting lists in the county.
Dr Mary Stocker, a consultant anaesthetist at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and Joint Clinical Lead for SWAOC, said: “This is fantastic news and a great credit to all the wonderful staff from across our system who work at SWAOC. The team have developed a revolutionary centre for elective orthopaedic surgery and are making such a difference to the lives of local people.”
“It was a pleasure to have welcomed Professor Tim Briggs and NHS England’s team to Devon recently to assess the centre and we’re pleased that they have recognised the outstanding care that is being delivered here.
“The majority of patients we see are admitted, treated and able to go home on the same day, which is better and more convenient for them, and it enables us to treat more people.”
Surgical hubs, which are separated from emergency services, are part of plans nationally to increase capacity for elective care with more dedicated operating theatres and beds.
The hubs exclusively perform planned surgery and mainly focus on high volume, low complexity (HVLC) surgery across various specialties including ophthalmology, general surgery, orthopaedics, gynaecology, ear nose and throat, and urology.
Hubs bring together the skills and expertise of staff under one roof, with protected facilities and theatres, helping to deliver shorter waits for surgery.
The hub beds are designated for patients waiting for planned surgical procedures, and are protected from emergency admissions, reducing the risk of short-notice cancellations.
SWAOC was recently visited and assessed by the GIRFT team for accreditation and recognition that the hub is working to a defined set of clinical and operational standards on:
– The patient pathway
– Staff and training
– Clinical governance and outcomes
– Facilities and ring-fencing
– Utilisation and productivity
The centre was one of eight surgical hubs selected for the pilot out of 89 hub sites currently in operation. Plans are now underway for a national roll-out of the scheme to other hub sites across England.
Out of the eight centres that were accredited, the SWAOC is the only centre which is specifically designated as a county-wide resource. It offers the opportunity for patients and surgeons from all parts of Devon to use its facilities.
While it is not mandatory for trusts to seek accreditation, the long-term goal is for every elective hub to be accredited.
Professor Tim Briggs, Chair of GIRFT and NHS England’s National Director for Clinical Improvement and Elective Recovery, was part of the team undertaking the hub assessments.
“We have visited some excellent hub sites and we have been impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm of the hub teams who are delivering outstanding care.
“All of the sites we accredited are focused on providing an excellent patient experience and several are setting new standards with regards to day-case surgery and innovative models of care.
“GIRFT’s focus is on developing surgical hubs with the aim of improving patient flow so that patients have shorter waits for surgery, will be more likely to be able to go home on the same day, and have a better patient experience.
“We want to provide the assurance for patients and staff that these sites are delivering safe and high-quality care now and will continue to accelerate their progress and productivity in the future.”
Within the Nightingale site along with SWAOC, there is also a new Centre of Excellence for Eyecare which is already providing high quality one-stop cataract surgery pathway for patients in Devon.
The scheme, run by NHS England’s Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons of England, assesses hubs against a framework of standards to help hubs deliver faster access to some of the most common surgical procedures such as cataract surgeries and hip replacements.
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