Jan Sobieraj: Orthopaedic operations move saw cancellations drop

I am pleased to report that our pilot project to transform orthopaedic surgery across the county has got off to a good start. Our aim is to improve the experience and outcomes for patients by dramatically reducing the number of cancelled operations.

We have been learning from some of the top performing trusts in the country who are able to offer a better service by separating their elective and emergency orthopaedic surgery, resulting in better outcomes for patients.

The model of all of the trust’s sites at Boston, Grantham, Louth and Lincoln, doing everything for all patients is struggling at times to cope with the increasing demand. The pilot will see all of the trust’s sites working together, with each one focussing on elements of care that will help to improve the overall patient experience.

Last year we had high cancellation rates, with 900 patients having their orthopaedic operations cancelled. The unprecedented demand over winter was a significant contributor to this, however it is not acceptable and with this trial we can stop this from happening again and provide a much better service to the people of Lincolnshire.

In the first five weeks of the trial we have only had to cancel one orthopaedic patient’s operation, which is a massive improvement and is really encouraging.

This is a really exciting time for the trust, if we can make the trial a success our vision is to make Grantham and District Hospital an orthopaedic centre of excellence, secure a multi-million pound investment in theatres, with bold visions to make it one of the top performing hospitals in the country for joint replacements.

We have listened and responded to public opinion gathered during recent engagement sessions where the vast majority of people said they would be happy to travel to a centre of excellence for their planned operations, as long as they could still have their other pre and post-op care locally. Which is exactly what this project enables us to do.

It is also good news for emergency patients at all of our hospitals. By managing all of our routine elective surgery at Grantham and almost doubling our day cases at Louth it means that we will be in a better place to manage emergency cases at Lincoln, Grantham and Boston.

It will enable us to get patients into our theatres sooner and free up beds in A&E.

This is an exciting plan with big ambitions to provide our patients with the first class service that we want and know we can deliver and more importantly it is the level of service that they deserve.

In the first week of the pilot the surgical team at Grantham operated on 36 patients who required planned orthopaedic operations and overnight care, which is impressive when you consider that pre-trial Grantham only operated on an average of 11 patients per week who required an overnight stay.

By starting the trial in August, it means it will be established in time to help us with our preparations and plans for winter. At the end of the pilot we will be able to take stock and look at how things have gone with the trial, before deciding on the next steps.