Norfolk and Norwich Orthopaedic Centre (NaNOC)

The new Norfolk and Norwich Orthopaedic Centre (NaNOC) continues to take shape as part of our ambition to reduce our elective waiting list, which is one of the largest in the country.

While building work continues here, the modules making up much of the unit are being built off-site and will be crane-lifted into position once complete.

Recruitment is also under way for doctors, nurses, physios and admin and clerical staff.

The centre will consist 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 four-bedded bays. There will be a dedicated pharmaceutical/drug preparation area, dedicated physiotherapy room and modern staff facilities including some non-gender specific staff 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,” says Jim Wimhurst, Lead clinical consultant.

Facilities Environmental Arts Manager, Emma Jarvis, is creating a calm and serene area with artworks which are being funded by our N&N Hospitals Charity. The N&N Hospitals 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.

If you’d like to support the fundraising efforts, you can donate here.

“This is by far our biggest challenge, but one we are optimistic that we can meet because we what we are offering is really very attractive to potential candidates,” continues Jim.

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

“It has been seen that the units that have most successfully functioned as we have come out of the pandemic are the ones which are ring-fenced and separate from, but situated close to, a main hospital.

“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.”