Guest bloggers: Professor Fares Haddad, (UCLH) and Rob Hurd,Chief Executive (RNOH)

Our guest bloggers for this month are Fares Haddad, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at University College Hospital, London (UCLH) and Rob Hurd, the Chief Executive of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH).  They are both leading a review of orthopaedic care in the area.

In August this year, working with patient representatives, local hospitals and clinicians, North London Partners in health and care (NCL) launched a review of elective orthopaedic surgery in north central London. 

Rising demand for orthopaedic operations, such as hip and knee replacements, means that at present, people are waiting longer than we’d like for a procedure.   Our very busy accident and emergency departments also need to send very sick patients for urgent operations. 

This means that sometimes planned, routine operations have to be delayed.  This happens even more during the busy winter months with demand is highest.

Whilst both of these things are unavoidable, they aren’t good for anyone involved.

However, with some reorganisation, we both believe that this could be improved and that is why we have launched the review.

One example of what could be achieved exists not far away, in south London.

14 years ago, the South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre was established.   This centre specialises in routine, non-emergency orthopaedic operations.  This is all they do – and they are very good at it. 

The centre is separated from all emergency care, so routine operations are not cancelled.  By focusing on doing just this kind of care, they have become very good at it, and very efficient.

Patients rarely experience cancellations, feedback is excellent and outcomes are some of the best in the country. 

In our review, we think we could establish a similar arrangement for those living in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Islington and Haringey – and we’re talking to people to see if they agree. 

We have an open mind about whether we need a single centre, like the one in south west London or perhaps two or even three different specialist centres.  

However, what we believe is that this kind of consolidation is a good idea, and evidence from internationally respected bodies such as the Royal College of Surgeons supports this.   

Our ideas have been summarised in one document – a ‘case for change’ which explains why we believe that creating these new centres is a good idea.   

At the moment, we are talking to anyone who has an interest, from patients and residents who have already had this kind of care, to staff at our local hospitals and to the surgeons who carry out these operations.  We’re also involving local GPs and community services.

The purpose of this is to test our thinking and make sure that others agree, before we come up with a final proposal.

We’d really like to hear what you think too.  With Healthwatch Camden, we’ve organised an event at which we’ll be seeking feedback.  In addition to these, there’s a questionnaire on our website or you can write to us with your thoughts.  Visit the link here.

We would encourage you to get involved. So speak up and let us know your thoughts