Mobile operating theatres in pipeline

ONE of the first of a series of airport-style surgery centres – with a fleet of mobile operating theatres – could be built in Suffolk, it has been revealed.

ONE of the first of a series of airport-style surgery centres – with a fleet of mobile operating theatres – could be built in Suffolk, it has been revealed.

Bosses behind the project, which is designed to cut waiting times for patients and help the NHS deliver surgery closer to the community, said they had identified two sites for new Healthports in East Anglia, including one near Ipswich.

The new centres – requiring little more than half-an-acre of land and featuring "docking bays" for the mobile theatres – are hoped to be built within the first half of this year.

Gary King, director of strategy at project leader Vanguard Healthcare, said: "I am delighted to say that we are already looking at two sites – one at Norwich and one near Ipswich – with a view to building a Healthport in each."


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The firm had been looking for suitable sites close to practices with GPs keen to get involved with the new initiative.

Healthports can be built in just six weeks, at no cost to the NHS, and use mobile medical technology to create additional day surgery.

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Mr King said: "Although the concept of a Healthport is relatively new, interest from East Anglia was immediate.

"Healthports will work wonderfully well in this area where there are centres of population with significant travelling time to hospitals.

"Although we have two local sites already, we are still looking to talk to local GPs with a desire to develop expanded community services, particularly in areas where existing providers are unable to meet day surgery targets.

"Our aim is to reduce patient travelling distance and time and give doctors a local Healthport as part of the Patient Choice programme."

Vanguard is the leading provider to the NHS of mobile operating theatre suites, combining anaesthesia, operating room and three-bay recovery under one roof.

It currently has a fleet of 12 mobiles in use, which have delivered over 30,000 procedures, and the first prototype Healthport was built in Plymouth last summer. NHS trusts and GPs are now being invited to discusses their needs with Vanguard Healthcare.

Healthports are designed to be built on main roads, close to patient populations, and will mainly cater for NHS day surgery patients, although more complex elective surgery can also be handled.

Mr King added: "It's hugely cost effective because the NHS does not have to pay for permanent additional theatres – and we can bring in mobile MRI, CT or X-Ray as required, all docking like aircraft into the Healthport."

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