City Hospital’s breast unit inspires other NHS trusts

28th Mar 2013

Improvements made by staff at the breast unit at City Hospital have now become the basis for the Department of Health’s official guidelines for breast cancer care.

Staff at the breast unit have worked together to successfully change the way they work.

These changes have reduced waiting times and had a noticeable impact on how long patients need to recover in hospital.

In November last year the breast unit team won a prestigious Health Service Journal award for the improvements they have made.

Since then staff from the Royal Free in London, Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Trust, and the East Midlands Cancer Network, have visited City Hospital to observe the new practices and procedures in use.

Surgical care practitioner, Simerjit Rai, said: “We have a fantastic team who have worked together over the last five years to ensure we provide our patients with the best possible service.

“It’s great to know that our hard work is now inspiring others to implement similar changes and improve the quality of care for patients.”

Patients who need mastectomies and excisions are now admitted to hospital as day cases and all of their treatment is carried out in the Birmingham Treatment Centre.

This means that patients having surgery do not need to attend multiple appointments in different departments and no longer have to wait for beds to be available on the main inpatient wards.

This has cut the number of cancelled operations and reduced waiting times for procedure dates.

Clinical director, Mr Hamish Brown, explained: “To make such big changes we have challenged the traditional roles of members of the team.”

“We have also questioned the use of common but unproven aspects of surgery, such as the routine use of wound drains, which have now been safely abandoned.”

These changes have also reduced the length of time patients need to stay in hospital following surgery.

Before the changes were introduced it was common for patients to stay in hospital for up to five days after their operation.

Now, most patients stay for less than 24 hours.

A recent patient satisfaction survey has shown that patients treated at the unit are pleased with this reduction and prefer to recover in the comfort of their own home.

At the beginning of February Mrs Mercer from Oldbury underwent surgery at the breast unit.

She said: “I have now had two procedures at the breast unit and all of the staff I have met have been lovely.”

“I came in for my operation at 12.30pm and was home by 8pm the same day. I was up and about soon after the procedure and was glad I could recover at home with my family. ”

“I’ve been really impressed with the treatment I have received.”

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