We held a Gynaecology ‘Perfect’ Week from Monday 7 November, treating 81 women. It would usually take our teams around a month to carry out this number of operations. These focused efforts, where we concentrate our resources to carry out well above the usual number of procedures in a week, are one way we’re reducing our waiting lists.
This week targeted women who have experienced long waits, including those who have waited over a year for treatment, mainly due to the pandemic. A range of operations were carried out, including hysterectomies, abdominal muscle repairs, and myomectomies, where fibroids are removed from the wall of the womb.
Our Women’s Health team spent around two months planning the week. Specialty manager Mark Wilkinson said: “There was a lot to think about. While these are routine operations, they can be fairly complicated and many women needed to stay overnight.
“It’s been fantastic and a real team effort, not only working closely with our Surgery and Anaesthetic division, but also with staff on Iris ward where the women were staying. There has been really close collaboration.”
Roopa Nair, Specialty Lead for Women's Health, added: “The entire team has been fantastic, going above and beyond, working evenings and weekends, for our patients. They have showcased our PRIDE values, ensuring we’re delivering high quality care for our women.”
The majority of operations took place at our Surgical Hub at King George Hospital, with a few procedures completed at Queen’s Hospital. To help ensure everything went smoothly; patients were on standby in case of any cancellations, earlier ward rounds were held to ensure patients who were ready could go home, women likely to have complications were operated on first, additional nursing staff were on the ward, and we maximised theatres by ensuring everything was ready to start on time.
To carry out so many more operations than an average week, our staff also held twilight theatres until 7pm, and on Saturday.
Grandmother-of-five Beryl Thornton, 75, was one of the women treated, having a hysterectomy on Wednesday 9 November after waiting 69 weeks. She said: “I discussed my surgery with my consultant in August and was warned I might have a long wait. But the next thing I knew I had a pre-op appointment – I never thought I would get it done before Christmas.
“I was really chuffed to have it done. I saw my anaesthetist before my operation who was really nice, and I felt included in the decision making. I wasn’t a run-of-the-mill patient as I have several other conditions, which complicated things, however, everyone pulled out all the stops to make sure I could get it done.”
Sinead Skelton, ward manager on Iris ward, said: “It was a real test for the ward team and also a great success. Collaboration has been key.
“Its success was a combination of advance planning with patient safety a key focus, daily meetings on progress and ensuring patient experience and quality of care was not compromised due to the additional workload. I am so pleased our patient feedback remained so positive during the week, which was reassuring.
“I’m so proud of the team for again rising to the challenge, It’s a great achievement. Without our Surgical Hub, we would not have been able to reduce the waiting times for these patients.”
In August this year, our Women’s Health team held an Endometriosis week, carrying out 24 operations, compared to a usual average of around two a week. Read more about how we’re reducing our waiting lists.
Pictured top are theatre staff during the week.