Our ‘perfect’ week sees 250 patients get the surgery they need in just seven days – including Natasha, 31, who had a total hip replacement

Natasha Mercer

Natasha Mercer

We held a ‘Perfect Week’, also known as the ‘BONES Project’ (BHRUT Orthopaedic NHS Elective Surgery), to tackle the backlog of patients awaiting surgery due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ambitious project culminated on Sunday (4 October) and exceeded expectations – with 135 joint replacements, 88 day case surgeries, and 27 spinal procedures completed. The aim of the week had been to complete 100 joint replacements, 80 days cases and 25 spinal procedures.

Among them was Natasha Mercer, of Coltsfoot Path, Harold Hill, who had a total hip replacement on Monday 28 September, and was able to go home safely that same day.

She said: “I’ve been in pain due to my arthritis for a couple of years and I didn’t think anything could be done once the pandemic hit.

“When I got a call to say my surgery could go ahead, I was so relived, I cried. It was really overwhelming as I’d gone from being really active, to moving like an 80-year-old. I was so happy that I could come home to my own home on the same day. My recovery is going really well.”

Natasha’s two children, aged seven and ten, can’t wait till she can play more actively with them again.

The 31-year-old was also reassured by all the steps, including a Covid-protected green zone, and swab testing, which have been undertaken to keep patients safe.

She added: “The staff were amazing. During my pre-assessment checks they told me what would happen and I felt really reassured. I get quite bad anxiety so I was relieved that I was the first to be seen on the day.”

And Natasha was full of praise for our COPE (Community Orthopaedics team in Essex), which has been supporting her with physiotherapy at home.

Krishna Vemulapalli, our Clinical Lead for Orthopaedics, said: “This was a pioneer project conceptualised by our Chief Execuitve, Tony Chambers, and the Trauma and Orthopaedics department. It is a completely patient centred project to provide essential planned operations to those affected by Covid-related prolonged waiting times.

“It was led by our Trauma and Orthopaedics team and there was lots of planning, strategising and hard work involved.

“This was possible only due to numerous willing and hardworking teams across our Trust and working in partnership with North East London Treatment Centre (Care UK) teams.”

Tim with Arlene Wellman, Chief Nurse at Epsom and St Helier, Thangadorai Amalesh, Divisional Director of Surgery and Guru Kholgade, matron for theatres at King George Hospital.

It was also praised by Tim Briggs, National Director of Clinical Improvements for the NHS, who visited King George Hospital on Friday (03 October).

Tim, who is also responsible for rolling out the NHS’ Getting it Right First Time (GIRFT) methodology, was keen to hear how the Trust prepared, tackled issues, and what the impact had been for patients.

He said: “I was very impressed by the dedication of staff to take on board the drive for high volume hubs this week in orthopaedics. It has demonstrated what can be achieved when clinicians and operational staff work together.

“I hope it can be expanded across all pathways and specialties for the benefit of patients in their outcomes and quality of care.”

Pictured top is Natasha Mercer, and above: Tim (centre) with (l-r): Arlene Wellman, Chief Nurse at Epsom and St Helier, Thangadorai Amalesh, Divisional Director of Surgery and Guru Kholgade, matron for theatres at King George Hospital.


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