NHS Fife is one of the fourteen regions of NHS Scotland and has two main hospitals – the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy (which has 2 theatres suites – Phase 2 elective orthopaedics with 2 theatres and Phase 3 with 11 theatres, supporting both elective and emergency work) and Queen Margaret in Dunfermline which has a dedicated Day Surgery unit consisting of 6 operating theatres, a Jack & Jill Cataract Unit and a Day Surgery ward.
Services for patients will be further enhanced with a new elective orthopaedic centre at the Victoria Hospital which is currently under construction. The £33m project (part of a programme of improvements and increased theatre capacity) will see the creation of a state-of-the-art facility which will support an additional elective orthopaedic operating theatre. The facility will form part of a network of National Treatment Centres across Scotland and is due to open in 2023.
Back in 2021, the Theatre Manager across both sites, Claire Lee, was looking at equipment to support their objectives to maximise capacity – while making safety paramount.
NHS Fife was already using Anetic Aid’s QA4 Mobile Surgery System in the Day Surgery Centre – procedures included orthopaedics, urology, ENT, OFMS, breast, plastics, and general surgery as well as two high volume ‘Jack and Jill’ model theatres dedicated to cataracts. Because of the success there, Claire and her colleagues wanted to explore whether these surgical trolleys would be a good approach at the Victoria Hospital.
Explained Claire: ‘We knew they would not be suitable for every procedure, but where possible, we saw this approach as a way of making a significant difference, primarily from a manual handling perspective for staff. We therefore decided to run a series of trials to test both the QA4 and other surgical trolleys on the market.
‘We set up a systematic evaluation criteria to cover first, if they could do the job, but also ensuring we looked at quality, value for money and reliability. Because we had QA4s in the Day Surgery Centre, many of our surgeons were already familiar with them and we knew they worked well, rarely having issues and needing minimal repairs. This was an important factor within the decision-making process, as not having adequate and reliable equipment has the potential to negatively affect our throughput and patient turnaround times in theatre. This would be a big investment and we had to be sure we would make the right choice.’
The NHS Fife trial involved two trolleys being used in the Victoria Hospital main theatres between October and the beginning of December. Anetic Aid’s Regional Accounts Manager Stuart Christie was frequently on site to demonstrate the equipment and work to solve any problems.
Said Claire: ‘Stuart was really helpful – he was very honest and never tried to gloss over any issues we were having. He was also able to come up with solutions: the ENT team was having some difficulties with access, and Stuart sourced a different headrest for them which solved the problem.’
The team found the QA4s offered the best functionality and demonstrated clear time saving across lists for a variety of procedures. They met the reliability and cost benefit analysis criteria – and the company also demonstrated its ability to provide practical customer support.
NHS Fife has since purchased 21 trolleys which will go into use at the Victoria’s main theatres this Spring (2022).
And NHS Fife is already looking for further ways to improve throughput and reduce waiting times in elective surgery. Future plans include adoption of robotics to harness the latest in technological advances for the benefit of patients.