Last month Torbay Hospital had concerns about the resilience of air handling units in two of their theatres and so commissioned a detailed inspection, following which they decided to close the two theatres with immediate effect on 7 November.
Then, a fan failed in a third theatre, which was then closed awaiting a replacement part, due to be delivered and installed by the end of the month.
‘This means for a short time we are down three out of ten theatres,’ they told us, ‘and we will be two down for a longer period. This could impact on any surgery, as we may need to move lists around but is most likely to affect routine Orthopaedics, ENT, Max Fac and Gynaecology. To date we haven’t cancelled any urgent or cancer patients and will do our best to accommodate these patients.’
The Hospital Trust are now working on a range of actions to increase theatre capacity, further options including:
- offering people the choice to have their surgery elsewhere – Mouth Stuart Hospital in Torbay and Care UK in Plymouth have already offered us extra capacity
- commissioning a new air handling unit (AHU) for Theatre A by May 2018.
- extending the use of theatres at evenings and weekends, either by bringing extra clinical teams in, or by offering our own staff extra shifts
- commissioning a modular theatre on site – the timescale for this will be 6-9 months plus
- bringing forward plans to replace our ageing theatres
‘The likely timescales for re-booking are difficult to assess as at present we don’t know exact details of what additional capacity we will have up and running,’ they say. ‘We are doing all that we can to put alternative arrangements in place, and if you are able to travel to another site, we may be able to offer you a date sooner than at Torbay Hospital. We are reviewing all our theatres lists so that we prioritise surgery for those in most urgent clinical need and people who have already been waiting a very long time.’
The Hospital’s surgical teams are contacting anyone affected directly, telling them , ‘If you don’t hear from us, please follow the arrangements in your admission letter. If you are on a waiting list and haven’t yet been given a date for your surgery, you will only hear from us when we are able to book you in for your operation, so please don’t worry if you don’t hear anything from us for some months. However, if your symptoms worsen, then please consult your GP .’
Bob Jope Healthwatch Torbay
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