New Orthopaedic Surgery Initiative Launches In NI

A new orthopaedic surgery initiative launched in NI has seen 21 hip replacement operations carried out in the last week.

The initiative is one of a range of initiatives taking place to utilise additional in-house and independent sector capacity to tackle hospital waiting times. The Western Health and Social Care Trust in partnership with Musgrave House has planned a programme of hip replacements using surplus theatre capacity in the South West Acute Hospital between now and March 31.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: "Last year when I published a new Elective Care Framework to tackle the waiting lists, I gave a clear commitment that I wanted to see all HSC capacity utilised whenever and wherever possible.

"That included a specific focus on making better use of theatre capacity that was not in active operation and where HSC activity isn't being delivered, for example, at evenings and weekends or where services have not been commissioned. I would much rather see our hospital theatres leased to independent providers to treat HSC patients than see them lying empty and patients forced to dwell on a waiting list for even longer.
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"The South West Acute Hospital is a brilliant facility and a major asset for the region within the HSC estate. It would be a major disservice to the unacceptable numbers of people on a hospital list, but especially those experiencing daily pain and discomfort whilst waiting on a hip replacement, if we were not to seek to utilise the empty theatre and ward space there.

"I was delighted therefore that in only its first week the partnership saw 21 new hips delivered, with more full theatre lists planned for the days and weeks ahead. Whilst this is only one of many initiatives, these are genuinely life-changing procedures for the patients that benefit from them.

"These are operations for health service patients funded by the health service. Every procedure matters and it's a small step in the right direction every single time we get a person off a waiting list.

"Tackling our waiting lists is a major priority for me, and in sourcing additional capacity whilst still demonstrating value for public money in association with a major focus on increasing HSC capacity, will realistically be a part of that."

The Chief Executive of the Western Trust, Mr Neil Guckian stated: "The Western Trust's South West Acute Hospital has state-of-the-art theatre facilities and is well equipped to support such important regional initiatives. We are delighted to be supporting the work through uncommissioned ward and theatre facilities at the hospital which will see a significant number of procedures completed. This is a fantastic partnership which helps to tackle lengthy waiting lists and we are looking forward to working closely with the Health and Social Care Board and the various providers over the coming weeks."

If successful, this initiative will be carried into the next year to help alleviate long waiting times.

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