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£3bn group of hospitals moves to centralise electives

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North west London’s acute trusts are exploring whether to set up a new elective orthopaedic centre in the region as they seek to capitalise on the concept of “fast-track” surgical hubs.

Last week, a report to Imperial College Healthcare Trust’s board said a more “strategic, larger-scale” approach was being sought to improve capacity for more high-volume, low-complexity work across the sector.

This covers the four acute trusts in the area, which now share a single chair, and have a total turnover of more than £3bn: Imperial, Chelsea and Westminster, London North West, and Hillingdon.

The board report said leaders were exploring how best to establish the centre for the region while “maximising” planned surgery capacity overall, with the South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre run by Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust highlighted as a “well-established example”.

Central Middlesex Hospital, which is operated by London North West University Healthcare Trust, has been identified as a preferred location for the centre, the report said. A project management team is also being set up to explore the options available before proposals are developed for broader consideration.

It comes after 14 “fast-track” hubs were set up across hospitals in north west London to maximise theatre capacity, which predominantly focused on high-volume, low-complexity work surrounding specialties such as gynaecology, urology, orthopaedics and ear, nose and throat.

The report to ICHT’s board warned that, without some “further intervention,” the number of patients awaiting orthopaedic surgery in north west London could increase to just under a fifth by 2030 from a current position of 12,000 people seeking inpatient or outpatient care.

However, it added that a “large amount of work” was still required to explore the case for an elective orthopaedic centre, including establishing the best location and identifying capital and revenue funding and workforce requirements.

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Source: HSJ, 22 March 2022

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