Patients sent home early after surgery to tackle backlog of more than 6,000 operations

August 26 2021
Patients sent home early after surgery to tackle backlog of more than 6,000 operations

HIP and knee surgery patients are being sent home from Southmead Hospital early in a drive to get through a backlog of elective operations from the coronavirus pandemic.

Patients who have had a hip or knee replacement and are deemed suitable for ‘hospital at home’ support are being discharged after two days, rather than the usual five.

South Gloucestershire councillors expressed concern about patients getting three fewer days of hospital care after their ops - but a hospital chief assured them the initiative was safe at a public meeting.

The council’s health scrutiny committee, meeting in late July, heard that by the end of April, 6,425 patients had been waiting for elective surgery for more than a year, and 41 had been waiting for more than two years across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

The delays were because NHS hospitals did not have the staff or facilities to carry out all booked procedures as well as providing treatment for coronavirus patients.

The region was chosen to participate in a government ‘accelerator’ pilot to speed up the delivery of elective operations.

But Evelyn Barker, deputy chief executive at North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Southmead Hospital, insisted the orthopaedic supported discharge scheme was well managed.

She said: "People aren’t just pushed out the door home without any support."

Ms Barker said hip and knee replacement patients are assessed for their suitability for early discharge, some are transferred to step-down beds in the community instead of being sent home, and those who are sent home are managed by a dedicated ‘hospital at home’ team of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists.

By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service