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Orthopaedic teams at Maidstone Hospital are carrying out record numbers of surgeries in a single day.

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr James Nicholl (main image, centre) has pioneered Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust’s high intensity theatre (HIT) list approach for hand and upper limb surgery. It means up to 10 patients can have their operations in just one day, helping safely improve waiting times for non-emergency orthopaedic surgery.

High intensity theatre lists are inspired by Formula One pit stops; the team aims for peak efficiency by removing any delays around the surgery and maximising the time the surgeon has to operate.

Supported by an expert team including pharmacists, radiographers, and physiotherapists this pioneering approach allows the team to treat more patients efficiently and safely by:

  • carefully selecting suitable patients
  • making sure patients are fully prepared before surgery
  • getting rid of delays by shortening the turnaround time in the operating theatre between patients
  • giving the surgeon as much time as possible to operate.

All Mr Nicholl’s patients have their operations and go home that day, thanks to the expertise of the anaesthetic team who make sure patients are awake and relaxed during their operations, using regional anaesthesia to numb the arm. This helps shorten the turnaround time in theatre between operations and means patients can go home as soon as possible, with minimal discomfort.

The same approach is being taken by Consultant Hip Surgeon, Mr Syed Ahmed and Consultant Anaesthetist, Dr Kevin Fai (pictured below), who are carrying out up to seven hip surgeries in one day.

Mr Ahmed and his team recently carried out the third HIT list for hip surgeries in the past six months. Two of the seven patients were able to go home on the day of their surgery, with the rest being discharged the next day.

Mr Ahmed said: “The Maidstone Orthopaedic Unit team work so efficiently; Dr Fai and Dr Abraham ran the anaesthetic side of things extremely safely and effectively, ensuring a quick turnaround between patients. The theatre team led by Susan, Christine and Lewis ensured a seamless operating day, and I have to thank my coordinator, Parris, the orthopaedic managers and our Clinical Director Mr Lee David for their encouragement and support.”

We’re looking forward to taking this approach to the new Kent and Medway Orthopaedic Centre later this year, where our aim is to consistently perform at the highest level on the NHS Getting It Right First time (GIRFT) metrics of clinical outcome, patient experience and productivity.”

Of course, the most satisfying aspect of it all is to see the patients walking comfortably and back home the next day!”