Almost a year to the day since I wrote about what a strange year it had been due to Covid-19, I find myself expressing almost the same sentiments in 2021. Yet again, we have seen a year of upheavals and disruptions and yet again all of us who work in healthcare have found ourselves dealing with multiple challenges.
Impact of Covid-19
Of course, the challenges we’re dealing with as orthopaedic surgeons are nothing compared to the challenges faced by patients who may be experiencing worsening symptoms and disruption to their everyday life, and with no end in sight for many. Both private and NHS patients have seen their routine care interrupted and procedures cancelled or postponed. The impact of worsening pain and disability on people’s physical and mental health is considerable.
In its report ‘Patiently Waiting’, the charity Independent Age, which provides information and support to older people and their families, states that alongside the 5.6 million people waiting for hospital treatment across the country there are many millions more who haven’t yet come forward for treatment for fear of catching the virus or adding to the NHS’ heavy workload. It is an alarming picture. A large proportion of these patients are believed to be older and many are living with worsening pain, awaiting joint replacement surgery which could significantly improve their quality of life.
My hope for the coming year is that we can start to make headway with this backlog and bring relief to more patients who are suffering. It is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work as an orthopaedic surgeon to be able to radically alter a person’s quality of life with joint replacement surgery and to see them be able to do the things they enjoy once again. I hope that more people will be able to experience this and receive the quality of care they deserve.
Despite the ongoing situation with Covid, there have been many positive milestones this year and reasons to raise a glass. We are proud to have continued our pioneering work with Mako robotic arm-assisted surgery, which supports our surgical skill in joint replacement, helping us to achieve even greater accuracy and improved outcomes. This year we celebrated 280 Mako procedures successfully completed and Andrew Carrothers became the first surgeon in the UK to use Mako to perform all three most common joint replacement procedures in the same patient sequentially – total knee, partial knee and total hip replacements.
We now offer Mako robotic arm-assisted joint replacement surgery at The Nuffield Hospital and Spire Lea Hospitals in Cambridge, giving patients a greater choice of care closer to home. We’ve also joined the UK’s Mako surgeon faculty, certifying other consultant surgeons on the use of Mako robotic arm technology and surgeries.
Spreading the word
Although we were early pioneers of Mako technology, the system is rapidly gaining traction and there is now a huge volume of peer-reviewed studies (nearly 280 at the last count) that demonstrate its many benefits. These studies show improved patient-reported outcomes after surgery, including earlier and faster recovery, less pain and quicker hospital discharge. In the medium term, prosthetic implants show improved survival rates. I recently appeared on BBC Radio Cambridge’s Jeremy Sallis show discussing the benefits of Mako and Symbios customised hip replacements for patients and will be doing another radio show in January 2022.
Now on BBC iPlayer
While we’re on the subject of being in the media spotlight, if you didn’t catch the BBC2 programme Surgeons: At the Edge of Life last year (Series 3, Episode 1), it’s now available on the BBC iPlayer. The programme shone a spotlight on complex and high-risk surgical procedures for vulnerable patients and it received great critical acclaim from viewers. I appeared performing pioneering palliative care surgery for an NHS cancer patient using the highly complex Harrington Plus procedure. Many patients told me how much they enjoyed watching the programme, so do tune in if you haven’t already seen it.
If you’d like to read more about our achievements this year, read our 2021 In Summary blog.
Certificate of Excellence
For now, all it remains for me to say is thank you to our fantastic patients for all their kind words and feedback. We are extremely proud to have received a Certificate of Excellence from I Want Great Care. Currently we have 457 5-star reviews and this number is growing all the time. Of course, this is a team effort and I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of my entire team in helping to achieve this.
A team effort
Next year we will continue our hard work in maximising outcomes for each and every patient. Everyone deserves the best care and I strive – with the support of my fantastic team of nurses, anaesthetists and administrators – to achieve that. As a patient, you also have outstanding post-operative care provided by our colleagues in physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic.
Wishing you a happy Christmas and a happy, fit and healthy new year.
Talk to an orthopaedic consultant | Cambridge
Please be reassured that despite the ongoing UK Covid-19 pandemic, orthopaedic treatments are now again being routinely offered to patients. Having the vaccine does not mean that your treatment won’t go ahead. However, in some circumstances, such as for planned surgery, it is advisable to delay it by a couple of weeks to ensure your body responds in the optimum way to the vaccine. If in doubt, please talk to your orthopaedic consultant or contact us for more guidance to help get your orthopaedic treatment back on track.
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For your convenience, we offer appointments at both Nuffield Hospital Cambridge and Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital.