Braintree Community Hospital to start offering orthopaedic surgery

Braintree Community Hospital. Picture: COLIN HOTSTON

Braintree Community Hospital. Picture: COLIN HOTSTON - Credit: COLIN HOTSTON

Surgeons in Essex will start performing non-emergency orthopaedic operations at a community hospital next week in a bid to cut waiting times.

Bosses will transfer some theatre services currently provided at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford to Braintree Community Hospital (BCH) from Monday.

Beds on the Courtauld Ward, which were previously reserved for people who needed extra rehabilitation before going home following a spell in hospital, will now be used for orthopaedic surgery patients.

Under the plans, a controversial scheme called Home First is being introduced to offer more people care in their own homes.

A spokeswoman for Mid Essex Hospital Trust said non-emergency operations were regularly delayed at Broomfield Hospital due to high demand from urgent admissions.

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She added: “Transferring some of our non-emergency orthopaedic surgery to Braintree provides us with an excellent opportunity to offer a service that will not be impacted by A&E pressures and allows us to provide a more responsive, efficient and effective service for the community that we serve.”

In the first stage of the transfer, 16 beds at BCH will be allocated to orthopaedic patients and those who have experienced long waits will be prioritised.

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The theatre list will start with two operations per day but will increase over time.

Clare Panniker, chief executive officer of Mid Essex Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We are committed to providing high quality, safe and effective care and the need to delay surgery for some of our patients awaiting surgery in the past has been far from ideal.

“Offering some of these patients the opportunity to have their procedures carried out at BCH offers a real improvement in patient experience and patient outcomes.”

Professor Chris Green, chairman of The Friends of BCH, said: “We are pleased that better use is being made of the two state-of-the-art operating theatres but we are very sad to see the transition beds disappearing and that was our concern because we are not convinced it was a good move, but only time will tell.”

Prof Green said the proposal to change the use of Courtauld Ward was handled “very badly” at the beginning, which he claimed led to staff leaving.

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