A dedicated joint-replacement service at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton is getting patients home faster and reducing waiting times.
In the past patients receiving hip and knee replacements often spent up to five days in a hospital bed after their procedure.
But now patients are encouraged to get up and about as soon as possible, and most find themselves back home in as little as two to three days.
Less time in a hospital bed means reduced risk of infections and a faster return to independence and their own homes. This also allows more patients to be treated each week, helping to ease pressures on waiting lists.
Thanks to 12 dedicated beds on Gara elective orthopaedic ward, some innovative advanced planning and support from specialist nurses and physiotherapists, the arthroplasty service at the Friarage is now carrying out up to 20 planned procedures a week, with plans to do more.
This improved way of working has been inspired by Getting It Right First Time, a national NHS improvement programme delivered in partnership with the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust. The programme is designed to improve the quality of care within the NHS by tackling variations in the way services are delivered across the NHS, and by sharing best practice between trusts.
Gara acting ward manager Kathryn Young said the initiative had been welcomed by ward staff as a chance to make a really positive difference to patients. She has been impressed by the team’s enthusiasm and commitment to develop the service which is testament to the culture and teamwork already in place on the ward.
She said their ultimate aim was to have most patients home within two days:
“It’s giving patients better outcomes and reducing the amount of time they have to spend in hospital. If we get them back home quickly they will do more for themselves and recover better and are less likely to be readmitted to hospital. It’s win win for everybody.”
Robert Gordon, 68, of Marton had a hip replacement and was allowed home the next day. He said it was much quicker than he had expected:
“I went in on the Wednesday morning, had my operation and was home the next day. It was great. I was pleased to get home and my wife was overjoyed. I’m doing great, improving every day and getting stronger.”
Nicola Bell, 45, of Masham underwent a hip replacement operation in January and was home four days later. It would have been an even shorter stay if she had not had an adverse reaction to her anaesthetic and pain killers.
Nicola, who was diagnosed with shallow hip sockets when she was 17, said: “I got there at 7.30am and they immediately took me down and explained what would happen. The anaesthetist was absolutely fantastic and put me at ease. I was back on the ward and sat up eating at 11am.
“It’s an excellent ward. I could not fault any aspect of the care provided by the ward staff. The nurses had a lot of patients but they were always smiling.”