Spotlight on: our new Orthopaedic Centre

As we launch a major recruitment campaign for our new Orthopaedic Centre, Jim Wimhurst, Clinical Lead Consultant, talks about what benefits the unit will bring to both patients and colleagues.

Over the coming weeks and months, you will see several adverts going out for doctors, nurses, physios and admin and clerical staff for our new 21-bedded Orthopaedic Centre, that will be integral to our ambition to reduce our elective waiting list, which is one of the largest in the country.

The Norfolk and Norwich Orthopaedic Centre (NaNOC) will be a stand-alone complex, consisting of a newly built, two-theatre unit connected to a conversion of the Aylsham suite, turning it into a 21-bed elective ward with a mixture of single and 4-bedded bays. There is a dedicated pharmaceutical/drug preparation area, dedicated physiotherapy room and modern staff facilities including some non-gender specific changing rooms.

“This really is an exciting development for our patients because this is a purpose-built facility in which we will be able to use new technology, new techniques and improve the patient and staff experience,” said Jim Wimhurst.

Emma Jarvis, Facilities Environmental Arts Manager, is creating a calm and serene area with artworks which are being funded by the N&N Hospitals Charity. The charity has pledged to raise £2m,the largest donation in its history, for vital equipment including advanced imaging scanners and it is already half-way there.

As construction of the modules continues off-site, the Trust has turned its attention to the bigger challenge of staffing the unit.

“This is by far our biggest challenge as there is a national shortage of theatre staff, particularly theatre nursing staff. Again, we are optimistic we can meet this challenge though because what we are offering is really very attractive to potential candidates,” said Jim.

“The fact that we have a purpose-built, new stand-alone facility, which is ring-fenced for elective orthopaedic surgery, means that colleagues can have a higher level of assurance that they will be doing the job they applied to do. It can be very distressing when procedures must be cancelled because there are no beds available within the main hospital due to seasonal pressures.

“NaNOC will initially provide a little under 50% of our total elective orthopaedic capacity. We will still have three elective theatres in the main hospital and the capacity to significantly increase the number of cases compared to what we do now.

“We will also be able to pick up our work on enhanced recovery, which is a process of using multidisciplinary techniques to enable patients to get up and moving as soon as possible after their surgery. This aids their recovery and evidence shows they recover better and go home more quickly.

“When we started our Norwich Enhanced Recovery Programme (NERP) in 2010, average length of stay for hip and knee replacements was eight days. We introduced new techniques around anaesthetics, surgery, mobilisation, and pain relief. In six months, we had brought the average length of stay down to four days.

“Progress plateaued but focus will be brought back to this with the aim of driving down bed stays to just two days, with some routine knee and shoulder procedures being carried out as day-case procedures, allowing for efficient use of the unit because patients will not need to stay as long, so more people can be treated in a timely fashion.

“These techniques will only apply to patients who meet certain safety criteria. Patients with more complicated medical issues or multiple needs will have their surgery in the hospital’s main theatres.”

As a new unit, the team will be keen to use modern techniques and procedures to enhance their work. This will hopefully include use of robotic-assisted knee replacements. Use of robots for surgery has shown in other procedures that patient recovery can be faster as surgery is more precise, reducing damage to surrounding tissue.

“I am hoping this cutting-edge technology will also be a draw for potential applicants looking to expand their areas of expertise and work in an innovative unit,” added Jim.

Current vacancies:

Keep an eye on @NNUHjobs on Twitter for further vacancies.

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