From Bones R Us to Back2Backs - how our teams are going above and beyond to get our patients the care they need

Staff member in an office with a patient

NHS trusts across the country have been hugely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and ours is no different.

Large numbers of routine procedures and appointments being postponed meant growing waiting lists and our patients waiting longer to get the care they need.

Our brilliant teams are pulling out all the stops for our patients, finding innovative and creative ways to care for them quickly and safely as we move our focus towards recovery from the pandemic and getting our patients treated as quickly as possible.

From super-clinics and state-of-the art diagnostic equipment through to an innovative new training academy for Emergency Department doctors and streamlining the way we work using The PRIDE Way tools, our staff have worked tirelessly as one #teamBHRUT across our hospitals for our patients. We’re delighted that some of these initiatives have been recognised nationally, having been shortlisted for awards, and we wish the teams the very best of luck!

Our efforts are already seeing a reduction; at the end of March, we had around 2,430 patients waiting over 52 weeks for treatment, in just the four months since, we have reduced the number to around half that.

We must not forget the pandemic has taken its toll on our staff too, and a crucial part of our recovery is making sure we have the necessary wellbeing measures in place to support them.

Thank you to all our staff for their commitment to our patients. And as always our huge thanks to our communities and our partners and stakeholders for their invaluable support.  

Find out more below.

Bones R Us

Photo of Mark Wells-Bolger, a patient Our Trauma and Orthopaedic team started our Bones project last October, carrying out 250 procedures, including 135 joint replacements, in just seven days. Among those treated was 31-year-old Natasha Mercer who had a hip replacement and was able to go home safely that same day.

Natasha, who thought her surgery would not go ahead once the pandemic hit, was excited to be able to play more actively again with her two children, aged seven and 10.

Over the last two months, we’ve held two further ‘Bones R Us’ weeks. In June we focused on patients needing surgery to their upper limbs, feet and ankles, completing 60 procedures in five days.

Patient Georgina-Hope-Crossley, who had her right thumb operated on, praised our exceptional staff for caring for her so well, and providing reassurance in case she needs further surgery in the future.

Our Trauma and Orthopaedics team has also been holding super clinics since April, during the week and at weekends, to help get patients the care they need.

During a two-day clinic on 12 and 13 June they saw 260 outpatients.

Consultant Shivakumar Shankar said: “We’ve seen over 1,300 additional patients thanks to our weekend clinics. This is on top of the hard work of our teams during the week as well.”

Our most recent Bones R Us week was held in July, and this time we carried out 51 hip and knee replacements. Grandfather Mark Wells-Bolger (pictured above) called his experience ‘top-notch’ following his second knee replacement (the first was carried out during our October Bones week) and given his job as a bus driver, was relieved to be out of pain with his knees.

Our Bones weeks involve carrying out a much higher number of procedures than we would normally, for example, in an average week we’d carry out between 10 and 12 joint replacements. This is only made possible by having a focused effort across various teams to ensure we can best maximise our resources.

The project is also gaining external recognition and has been shortlisted for the upcoming HSJ Value Award of the Year. And it’s not the only area our surgery team has been recognised in – they’ve been shortlisted in a total of four categories.

The quick work of our Trauma and Orthopaedics team to keep patients safe at the beginning of the pandemic has been shortlisted in the Operations and Performance Initiative of the Year category. The team relocated to the Independent Treatment Centre at King George Hospital in just a week, so we had a Covid-protected site to safely care for trauma patients.

Our Academy of Surgery, an innovative training pathway for doctors wishing to pursue a surgical career, has been shortlisted for the People and Organisational Development Initiative of the Year.

And we’ve been shortlisted for the Acute Service Redesign Initiative, for our subspecialist twinning programme which trains senior nurses and healthcare professionals to become advanced surgical care practitioners and physician associates.

Ophthalmology team reduce waits to under two months

Refocusing resources, running twilight clinics and a paediatric super clinic has seen our Ophthalmology team reduce their backlog.

They looked at ways to safely and efficiently see as many patients as possible, introducing periods of running clinics every day, including weekends, and twilight evening clinics. During a nine-day test period, they saw 596 patients – way above the usual 450 they would see over the same period. Their second run of daily clinics more than doubled that to 961 patients.

During their super clinic week for paediatric patients, they saw 326 children, five times the usual average.

Their hard work has paid off with waiting times now under two months. Future initiatives to ensure they can maintain this standard include a high volume week for cataract patients.

Scalpel project

Staff involved in the clinic

Our Scalpel project set out with an ambitious aim in May this year – to see 1,000 surgery outpatients at special Saturday clinics spread across several months.

They saw 162 patients at the first clinic in May, with some patients able to have injections to help their symptoms, others booked for follow-up appointments or discharged back to their GP and many one step closer to having their operation.

Subsequent clinics in June saw 180 and 210 patients respectively. Pictured above are staff who supported the clinics.

Back2Backs

Staff member in an office with a patient

Our Neurosurgery team got in on the act and held a spinal review super clinic, Back2Backs, seeing 119 patients in one day on Saturday 12 June.

The clinic boasted a one-stop-shop to get patients ready for their procedure, something which was appreciated by patient Anna-Maria, who had been waiting to see a neurosurgeon for 10 months.

She said: “Everyone was amazing and it was fantastic that it was a one-stop-shop as it means I don’t have to wait again. It was well worth it.”

Pictured above is complex spine consultant Ahmed Ibrahim, during our Back2Backs clinic.

Urology super clinics

Our Urology team held two super clinics, on separate days over the weekend, to help reduce their waiting lists.

The first saw an impressive 72 patients and the second and incredible 120 in one day.

Surbjit Kudhail, the team’s patient pathway manager, said: “Both clinics were really successful, it’s really important patients know we can still care safely for them. Covid-19 has been our biggest challenge but initiatives like this show our recovery plans are effective.”

Cardio-Respiratory Physiology unit

In March, our Cardio-Respiratory Physiology unit was praised for their efforts to reduce their backlog, which had built up to 3,545 outstanding referrals by October 2020. The team expanded their hours, running early morning clinics as well as seeing patients over lunchtimes and on Saturdays. This was despite strict limits on the number of patients who could be in the department at the time.

Their hard work paid off as referrals were down to pre-pandemic levels of 400 by February this year.

Expanding our diagnostic capacity

Rakhee next to new ultrasound machine

We couldn’t offer planned care and reduce our waiting lists without first having in place the capacity to correctly diagnose our patients.

An expansion to our Ultrasound department at King George Hospital will allow our sonographers to carry out between 100 to 150 additional scans each week – absolutely key in reducing wait times for our patients.

We’ve also added an additional CT scanner to our Radiology department at King George Hospital, and our two MRI machines are being replaced with state-of-the-art machines which are 35 per cent faster than our existing versions.

Pictured above is Rakhee Jagatia, general ultrasound lead at King George Hospital, in one of our newly updated ultrasounds rooms.

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