Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust has gained a national accreditation from NHS England, for the high quality of care provided by its “surgical hub”.
The ringfenced elective hub was launched in 2020 to provide a dedicated non-emergency surgery service supporting the Trust to reduce its waiting times.
To become accredited, hubs are assessed against strict criteria including the quality of their facilities and staff, and how safe and efficient they are. From the more than 200 NHS trusts in England, only 24 surgical hubs have achieved accreditation so far.
Mr Will Goude, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and Divisional Director of the surgical division for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and is testament to the hard work of our dedicated surgical hub staff, including those who work in our operating theatres and all those who support them.
“Unlike many surgical hubs, ours is not in a separate location, but is located at the heart of Walsall Manor Hospital. It takes a lot of planning and commitment to keep our non-emergency theatres ringfenced for elective patients, especially when pressures on the NHS are at their highest, but it pays dividends in terms of the service our patients receive – enabling us to get people treated sooner, which we know leads to better outcomes and improved quality of life.”
Surgical hubs, which are separated from emergency services, mainly focus on high volume, low complexity (HVLC) procedures across six specialties: ophthalmology, general surgery, orthopaedics, gynaecology, ear nose and throat, and urology. In Walsall, the hub also provides specialist surgery such as colorectal cancer surgery and bariatric surgery.
Hubs bring together the skills and expertise of staff under one roof, with protected facilities and theatres for elective patients, helping to deliver shorter waits for surgery. Because they are separated from emergency services, their surgical beds can be kept free for patients waiting for planned operations, reducing the risk of short-notice cancellations.
The accreditation scheme is run by NHS England’s Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme, in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons of England. The whole patient pathway is scrutinised during the accreditation process, from the way patients are assessed for surgery, right through to the support they receive after their procedure.
Ned Hobbs, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive for Walsall Healthcare, said: “Here at Walsall we’re very proud to have received a lot of recognition and praise for our emergency care services over the last few years, but since the pandemic we’ve also been working incredibly hard to restore all our core services, particularly reducing our waiting times for cancer treatment and elective surgery.
“Our surgical hub is just one of the ways that our Trust is working smarter to enable us to achieve this. By creating a ringfenced unit for our surgical teams to focus on elective work, we’re able to get people seen and on the road to recovery faster, with assurance that they’re getting the highest standards of dedicated care.”
“This has contributed to us now being in a position where our total number of patients on our elective waiting list is reducing, against the backdrop of continual increases at a national level. In addition, we’ve been delivering cancer referral to treatment waiting times performance in the upper decile of Trusts in the country, helping treat patients sooner which we know is associated with better clinical outcomes.”
Professor Tim Briggs, Chair of GIRFT and NHS England’s National Director for Clinical Improvement and Elective Recovery, said: “We have been impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm of the hub teams who are delivering outstanding care.
“All of the sites we accredited are focused on delivering safe and high-quality care, and an excellent patient experience. GIRFT’s focus is on developing surgical hubs with the aim of improving patient flow so that patients have shorter waits for surgery and, for some procedures, will be more likely to be able to go home on the same day.”