Orthopaedic surgeons are delighted to be able to see patients again as lockdown restrictions ease. However, anxiety levels remain high, particularly among patients who are due to undergo joint replacements or other major surgical procedures.
Weighing up the risks
At Castle Orthopaedics we are accustomed to talking to our patients about the potential risks of surgery so they can make a fully informed decision before going ahead. Since the pandemic, however, there are additional risks and this is causing confusion for many people.
Some have postponed their surgery while others are still keen to go ahead but have no idea how long they might have to wait or what to expect when they go into hospital.
A message from the BOA
The British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) – the membership body for orthopaedic surgeons in the UK – acknowledges that the backlog of patients waiting for orthopaedic surgery is the longest of any healthcare specialty. At the end of June, it issued a message to patients explaining what orthopaedic surgeons are doing to begin operating again safely.
Frustration is a major factor for many patients who may have had scheduled surgery cancelled or be waiting – often in increasing pain – without any idea of when their operation is likely to happen.
The BOA reassured patients that everything is being done to get things moving again as quickly as possible but with safety as the primary consideration. That is the principle that is driving all of the plans we are making here at Castle Orthopaedics so that we can provide the care and treatment that our patients need but without putting them or our staff at increased risk. We recognise this can be frustrating but it is important to proceed slowly to prevent the risk of a second spike in Covid-19 infections.
Progress across different regions and hospitals may vary widely and the BOA acknowledges the impact this can have on patients. The delay is due to the many safety measures that hospitals are implementing to reduce the risk of infection.
What to expect if you go into hospital
If you go into hospital for surgery in the wake of the pandemic you will be subject to ongoing social distancing measures. The staff treating you will wear personal protective equipment and follow stringent new working practices. If you are having elective (planned) surgery it will take place in a ‘green’ pathway of care, which means that everything possible will have been done to reduce the risk of the Covid-19 virus being present.
There are new procedures in place that you will be asked to follow before you are admitted to hospital. These may vary from region to region but it is likely that you will be asked to self-isolate with the rest of your household for 14 days prior to your operation. A day or two before surgery you will need to have a swab test to check for Covid infection.
After surgery, you will be discharged as soon as possible to continue your rehabilitation at home. Follow-up appointments are likely to take place via phone or video link.
Helping our patients weigh up the risks
Despite all of these preventative measures, it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of infection when you go into hospital. For this reason, some patients have chosen to put their operation on hold. Others are, as yet, undecided.
As orthopaedic surgeons we are committed to providing you with all of the facts so that you can weigh up the potential risks and benefits of surgery before making a decision. This is a variable and rapidly changing situation so it is important to talk to your surgeon so you have the latest up-to-date information.
It is worth remembering that most foot and ankle, hand and shoulder surgery is performed as a day-case, under regional anaesthesia. This means the risks are low and recovery time is typically much quicker. Your consultant will discuss with your specific risks so you can be sure of receiving optimal care without compromising your peace of mind.
Whatever you choose, remaining fit and active and making healthy lifestyle choices will help to reduce your symptoms and, if you do decide to go ahead with surgery, will ensure you have the best possible outcomes.
Here to help
Following the lockdown, Castle Orthopaedics is now re-open for virtual and face to face appointments at both Spire Nottingham Hospital and BMI The Park Hospital. Surgery is now also being scheduled once again, which means that injuries requiring surgery can be treated.
Our orthopaedic consultants each specialise in a particular area of orthopaedics, giving you added peace of mind that you are receiving expert medical advice and highly tailored treatment.
BMI The Park Hospital
Sherwood Lodge Drive Burntstump Country Park, Arnold NG5 8RX
Spire Nottingham Hospital
Tollerton Ln, Tollerton, Nottingham NG12 4GA