Healthwatch went to St Luke's Community Centre to chat to a group of older residents about plans to improve adult elective orthopaedic services. Hip and knee replacements are two of the best known of these services.
What are some of the changes proposed?
One idea is that hip and knee replacements will be offered from fewer hospitals. These will be specialist centres that will not receive any patients requiring emergency surgery. This means that there will be fewer last minute cancellations, and less chance of hospital acquired infections.
What residents told us
- They hoped fewer centres didn't mean fewer beds and less of these operations being offered.
- In general, people were happy to travel further to a specialist centre if it meant they would receive better care.
- GPs don't always refer patients to these services as quickly as they should do.
'There needs to be a lot of education, both for GPs and for older people in the community, about knee and hip problems, so there are not unnecessary delays. GPs need to understand that when older patients come to see them, they are doing so as a last resort. By the time they go to the GP, it’s because they are desperate. So GPs shouldn’t tell these patients that the symptoms they are describing are just a natural consequence of getting old.
‘Similarly, better education for older people will help them identify problems earlier, they need to be able to realise that these aren’t just aches and pains.’
Review of adult elective orthopaedic services
Certain conditions of the spine or joints can be corrected by choosing to have an operation, for example a hip or knee replacement. Local surgeons, hospital managers, patient representatives, and commissioners have come together to develop plans for improving these services across North Central London.