Orthopaedic services at Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals have been shown to perform well by independent healthcare analysts Dr Foster, in their recent guide to Orthopaedic Consultants. Published in The Times the guide shows that:

  • For hip replacements readmission rates are 36 points lower than the national average;
  • For knee replacements readmission rates are 16 points below the national average;
  • Our standard mortality ratio for Hip Fractures in the Elderly is only 3 points off the national average and only 17 per cent of patients waited longer than two days for their operation following admission through A&E.

Clinical Director and Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Mark Bloomfield commented: “This is good news for patients and for the service. We have made significant improvements over the last 18 months. Waiting times for scheduled (elective) orthopaedic operations have fallen from 15 months to around 6 or less. We are already ahead of the government’s end of March 2004 target of no one waiting more than 9 months for a hip or knee replacement.”

Changes in the way patients are booked for an operation have been key to the improvement in performance.

  • Separation of the scheduled and emergency workload over the two hospital sites has rationalised the service and allowed easier logistical planning. Scheduled operations are less likely to be cancelled on either site because of a shortage of beds.
  • Patients attending an outpatient appointment at St. Peter’s are now booked direct into the operating schedule and leave the hospital with a date for their operation. New information technology systems will soon allow the same procedure to take place on the Ashford site.
  • Information about the type of joint replacement undertaken is now entered onto a central database enabling results to be audited easily and information to be submitted to the National Joint Registry without additional paperwork.

The majority of patients who have their joint replacement operation at Ashford Hospital spend some time on Dickens Ward. This ward regularly features as the Trust’s most praised ward with many letters received from patients. Most joint replacement patients only stay in hospital for five days or less. Patients at Ashford, including those on Dickens Ward, now have the benefit of bedside terminals which provide TV and direct dial telephone services. This facility is now being extended to St. Peter’s Hospital.

Between April 2002 and March 2003 Ashford and St. Peter’s undertook 4,807 (total – all types) orthopaedic operations which included:

  • 418 knee replacements
  • 346 hip replacements

Continuing Mr Bloomfield said: “Patients and their GPs can be assured that the Trust is well placed to undertake joint replacement surgery. Indeed we lead the field in a number of areas, including minimal incision hip and knee replacement, hip resurfacing, computer navigated knee replacement and complex shoulder surgery. Microsurgical spinal techniques are also available. The other aspect of Orthopaedics is Trauma and Emergency work where again we are up to date undertaking research as well as trialing innovative devices to treat complex fractures. For a long time the Trust has undertaken a significant amount of highly specialised work where an external frame, consisting of wires and circular rings is put around a damaged limb. Patients travel from far and wide for the Ilizarov procedure.”


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