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Clinician led changes to surgery 'could save NHS £40m'

The NHS could save more than £40m a year by making simple changes to the way patients are prepared for surgery and helped to recover, according to the Department of Health.

Officials say clinician led changes piloted at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford have demonstrated the extent to which money can be saved.

The changes involve ensuring potential complications are explored before admission to hospital and getting patients back on their feet as quickly as possible after surgery.

The “enhanced recovery” programme has led to the average number of bed days for patients being cut from 10 to four for certain types of surgery.

Adopted nationally, this could save £42.7m by freeing up 171,500 bed days, the Department of Health says.

The figures have been released as Andrew Lansley seeks to shore up support for his highly controversial reforms of the NHS, designed to empower clinicians.

Mr Lansley said: “This is a perfect example of what can be achieved when clinicians are given the freedom to be innovative and deliver healthcare in the ways they think are best for patients.

“This is exactly what I want to see in the NHS - better, more innovative care for patients that costs less - so savings can be invested back in to frontline care.”

The innovations in surgery preparation include: having GPs assess patients to ensure they are in the best possible condition before entering hospital for surgery; talking to patients about the process to minimise stress; using minimally invasive surgery; encouraging patients to get into a routine as soon after surgery as possible.

About 50 healthcare providers so far have clinical teams that use the “enhanced recovery” techniques. The department said it was strongly supportive of the methods but was not providing any additional funding.

Readers' comments (4)

  • The only way any money is saved is if you reduce length of stay, take out beds and reduce the number of nurses, Mr Lansley...

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  • The enhanced recovery model IS innovative and stems from a US-based model already rolled out at at least two other Trusts nationally. Others are looking at it now too.

    It will work if all professions, not simply surgeons and orthopods, are geared up to deliver both pre and post op packages of care. And this costs more money to deliver, and yes, you only save the LOS bed days £ if a) demand is managed or reduced as a result, i.e. bed days aren't filled up by other patients; b) beds are removed; and c) if there aren't any other recurrent costs to deploy and sustain.

    This model should be delivered to improve quality and patient care, but it doesn't save any money, and certainly isn't achievable if Trusts continue having to decrease overhead and pay costs thus reducing the opportunity to innovate.

    This is precisely the type of out-of-touch leadership that is not helping the NHS but rather hindering its progress. The candle is burning at both ends and strangely appears that political leaders are watching both ends burn.

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  • I have to agree with Lansley in that this seems to be a good example of clinicians and the syetem working together. What has it to do with GP commisiosning? They are a part of this, yes. Did they commission it? It doesn't seem so.

    It seems to me that this is the sort of thing clinicians should be spending their time doing.....supported by managers!

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  • yes but they are looking for £15-£20billion savings. A mere drop ibn the ocean

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