PERFORMANCE: The Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has become the first hospital to offer an innovative new treatment on the NHS.

QVH has begun using a simple injection to treat patients with the common condition Dupuytren’s contracture, also known as “claw hand”, which leaves their hands bent out of shape.

Traditionally, the only treatment has been a surgical procedure to release or remove the cord.

The new drug is an enzyme called Xiapex that works by dissolving the Dupuytren’s cord. The drug is injected directly into the cord during an outpatient procedure.

The following day, the patient returns for the surgeon to manipulate their hand to straighten the finger. There may be some bruising, which takes about a week to settle.

This compares with a recovery time of two to three months, including physiotherapy, for the surgical procedure, according to the trust.

UK trials of Xiapex began in 2008 and it was formally approved for use in 2011. It has been available in private clinics since April.

QVH is the first NHS hospital in England to provide the treatment through a scheme agreed with the local commissioners who fund NHS treatments.