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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Doctors moving ahead with change for the better

Doctors moving ahead with change for the better

Posted on Thursday 5th September 2013
cumberland infirmary flowers

The Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle

Significant improvements to clinical services are moving ahead at North Cumbria’s hospitals as doctors begin to implement changes that will improve patient safety, deliver the best possible clinical outcomes for patients and, ultimately, help reduce mortality.

Following publication of the Keogh report in July which called for urgent improvements to the quality and safety of care at North Cumbria, clinicians are now set to transform the pathway of care for high risk surgery patients who require complex operations such as those suffering from appendicitis or broken hips. 

With support from the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) and NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), from 6 September any patients who require high risk surgery out of hours – at evenings and weekends – will have their procedure at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle where teams of specialist surgeons will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the safest possible care and best possible clinical outcomes. 

The changes are in line with proposals agreed by the ‘Care Closer to Home’ public consultation in 2009 and the NHS Cumbria clinical strategy published in 2011 – both of which strongly recommended the centralisation of high risk, complex surgical care to improve both clinical outcomes and quality of care for patients.

From 1 October, all high risk surgery patients who require complex operations, no matter what time of day or night, will also have their high risk surgical procedures at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle in order to ensure the highest possible standards of patient safety at all times.

By focussing dedicated and permanent surgical teams on one site in Carlisle, which is also a dedicated trauma unit as part of the regional trauma network, will also help to reduce the chance of any ongoing complications and provide better continuity of care for any patients across North Cumbria needing high risk surgery.

By expanding this service on one site, available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, for high risk surgical patients, we can ensure our patients have a clinical review sooner and access theatre quicker. It has been clinically proven that this will not only improve the outcome for our patients but will also reduce mortality rates, something we know the public expect us to do.

It is estimated that only around two to three patients per week will require transfer to Carlisle from West Cumbria for their high risk operations, before returning to Whitehaven for their on-going care and rehabilitation, or going straight home.

Surgeons in Carlisle and Whitehaven are putting in place these vital improvements to provide safer, more efficient pathways of high risk surgical care as outlined in national recommendations from the Royal College of Surgeons for improved patient outcomes.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, interim medical director at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Our priority is to ensure that we provide high quality and safe 24/7 high risk surgery for all patients in North Cumbria so that we can improve outcomes and provide an all-round better patient experience. Our patients deserve nothing less.

“Concentrating complex and high risk surgery in Carlisle has been widely agreed for some time now and following Keogh it is an absolute clinical priority for us to deliver on these promises.  

“By focussing our high risk surgery on one site means we can create more permanent and dedicated teams of specialist surgeons who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also means we can create a safe and sustainable high risk surgery service for the people of North Cumbria which is in line with all best practice recommendations.”

A new surgical admissions unit has already opened at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle to ensure patients from Whitehaven and across North Cumbria requiring immediate surgical intervention are triaged and treated as quickly as possible in an emergency. This new system is already working well and helping to ease pressure on A&E as high risk surgical patients are admitted straight to a dedicated surgical unit.

Changes to high risk surgery will also help free up capacity at West Cumberland Hospital to increase the number of planned specialist operations taking place in Whitehaven which will benefit patients from across North Cumbria. Plans include more short stay and day case surgery, such as hernia operations, as well as more breast surgery, urology and planned orthopaedic surgery.

Dr David Rogers, lead GP for Copeland and deputy chair of NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The Keogh review confirmed that things had to change at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust to improve on the quality of care that our patients receive.

“It’s very important to us all that patients undergoing treatment have the best possible outcomes. The move to have all complex surgery dealt with at Carlisle is being done to improve the care for our patients and ensure they have access to specialist surgical teams no matter what time of day or night they need treatment.

“We are confident that this is a positive step forward to help improve safety for patients needing high risk surgery and we will be working closely with North Cumbria to monitor patient outcomes and experience as the changes take place.”