Elective Orthopaedic ‘hub’ to be located at Altnagelvin in bid to reduce waiting lists

Altnagelvin Hospital is to become a designated hub site for elective orthopaedic procedures in a bid to reduce waiting lists.

The Derry hospital will provide a ‘regional core’ for orthopaedic services and will have ring-fenced staff and beds.

It is intended that the development of this hub model will lead to regionalisation of services through single waiting lists.

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Health Minister Robin Swann has also announced a new Elective Orthopaedic Surgery Recovery Board to regionally drive forward the rebuilding of orthopaedic surgery services badly affected during the Covid pandemic.

Altnagelvin Hospital.

Elective Orthopaedics has the longest, and largest, waiting lists in Northern Ireland, with 25,526 people waiting for treatment as of March 31, 2022.

Rebuilding priorities include increasing activity in terms of theatre lists and treatment sessions and increasing output from each theatre list and treatment session through new and improved ways of working.

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The Minister has also published an Action Plan setting out a programme of reform for stroke services. This includes timescales for improvements in key areas including a seven day assessment service for Transient Ischemic Attacks (also known as ‘mini strokes”), a 24/7 Thrombectomy service, the roll-out of Early Supported Discharge to all Trusts and the development of community-based services for stroke survivors.

Mr Swann said: “I am committed to re-building and transforming our health service and I will continue to do everything I can to address the many deep seated problems that we are facing.”

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Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services at the Western Trust and Co-Chair of the Northern Ireland Orthopaedic Network, said: “We welcome the announcement by Health Minister Robin Swann setting out the approach to tackling regional waiting lists which will see Altnagelvin Hospital become a designated hub site for elective orthopaedic procedures, as part of the regional model.

“As a Trust, we are acutely aware of the long waiting times patients are experiencing for elective surgery, particularly Orthopaedic care and we deeply regret this.”

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She added: “It is our intention to move forward with the implementation of this service as quickly as possible to address the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on elective care waiting times.

“We look forward to working with our regional colleagues as this service develops.”