Work to build four new operating theatres at Kent and Canterbury Hospital will start early next year which the hospital trust says will benefit patients across east Kent.
The aim is for all patients needing planned orthopaedic inpatient operations in east Kent to be treated in new and improved facilities at the hospital by Spring 2021.
Patients will continue to have day operations and care before and after an inpatient operation at their local hospital, including tests and scans, pre-op and follow up appointments. Emergency patients will continue to be treated at William Harvey and QEQM hospitals as now, for example, for fractures suffered in a fall.
East Kent Hospitals is investing in the new operating theatres as part of a national NHS pilot announced last summer. The trust says carrying out planned orthopaedic operations at a separate hospital to emergency operations will benefit both sets of patients.
Where the changes have already started, both within east Kent and elsewhere in the country, waiting times have reduced and fewer operations have been cancelled.
Since last December, patients previously treated at William Harvey Hospital have had their planned hip and knee replacements in dedicated facilities at Kent and Canterbury Hospital as part of the first stage of the pilot. As a result, more than 500 patients have had their joint replacement operations sooner than under the previous system.
This first stage of the pilot freed up operating theatres at William Harvey Hospital, resulting in more than 1,000 patients having trauma, gynaecology and general surgical operations earlier. It also released an extra ward for patients with medical emergencies, helping to improve care for frail elderly patients and reducing waits in A&E.
The new investment will extend improvements at William Harvey Hospital and the trust says it will also bring significant benefits for patients at QEQM Hospital by freeing up operating theatres to treat more patients needing cancer surgery and trauma operations sooner, such as fractures sustained from a fall.
The investment will also help the Trust develop plans to improve care for frail patients and treat patients with medical emergencies sooner at both hospitals.
Susan Acott, Chief Executive for East Kent Hospitals said: “We are delighted to be chosen to participate in this national pilot and see the difference it’s already making for patients.
“By investing in new operating theatres and further dedicated beds at Kent and Canterbury Hospital we will be able to treat even more patients needing operations sooner at all hospitals in east Kent.”