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Radical results for Royal Free service

PUBLISHED: 15:40 09 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:00 07 September 2010

Tan Parsons A RADICAL overhaul of the Royal Free Hospital's amputee therapy service has cut average stays by two thirds compared to three years ago. Post-operative patients spent 46 days on the ward during 2008 – down from 126 days during 2005 – and staff

Tan Parsons

A RADICAL overhaul of the Royal Free Hospital's amputee therapy service has cut average stays by two thirds compared to three years ago.

Post-operative patients spent 46 days on the ward during 2008 - down from 126 days during 2005 - and staff and patients have hailed the changes as leading to a vastly improved hospital experience as well as making big savings.

Patient Jerome Morrison, 49 of Mansfield Road in Hampstead, was in the hospital for a month last summer following a lower leg amputation and comes back regularly for his physiotherapy.

Mr Morrison, who keeps parakeets, finches and budgerigars at his home, said: "There's no point in staying in bed any longer than necessary. I was in a wheelchair quickly and I was happy to get home as soon as possible, where my birds were waiting for me.

"A shorter stay in hospital definitely helped my recovery."

The improvements mean patients are able to get out of bed following an operation earlier than previously, which helps with their mobility.

The ward now has six wheelchairs specifically for amputees which are correctly balanced and support the amputated limb - playing a big role in the recovery process.

New gym facilities have also made it possible for all patients to take part in daily rehabilitation sessions away from the ward.

Senior amputee physiotherapist Kate Primett said: "We looked closely at our objectives and what we were trying to achieve in the service. By developing a co-ordinated multi-disciplinary approach to care and increasing staffing levels to enable more intensive rehabilitation, we have been able to facilitate early discharges from hospital."

Input from occupational therapists helps patients to regain their independence earlier. Receiving advice on personal care and gaining practise with their wheelchairs means that patients are able to look after themselves as soon as they get home, for example.

The new system means patients are actively involved with developing their own recovery by setting long and short term goals with the therapists.

Case conferences offer patients, family and carers the opportunity to discuss concerns and issues about being discharged from hospital with the whole amputee team. Psychological support is also offered to the patients, family and carers on both a one-to-one level and a group basis.

The team in charge of the work has found that that the costs involved in employing additional staff have been more than offset by the money saved due to shorter patient stays.


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