As we approach the end of 2020, this seems a good moment to pause and reflect on this extraordinary year and everything we have learned.
I doubt that any of us would have predicted quite what a challenging year this was going to be and how much our everyday life would be disrupted by the arrival of Covid-19. Within healthcare, both private patients and NHS patients have, unfortunately, experienced interruptions to mandatory care, with procedures being postponed, sometimes for an extended period of time. This has led to a worsening of symptoms for some people and a detrimental impact on both physical health and mental health.
Getting back on track
As orthopaedic surgeons, we are committed to giving every one of our patients good quality care and enabling them to lead a full and active life. Going forward into 2021, we are looking forward to getting back on track and giving patients the best possible care. The easing up of restrictions mean we are now scheduling surgery again so if you have found yourself waiting longer than normal this year and you’d like to talk to us about getting your treatment underway, do get in touch.
Although this year has been a difficult one, there have also been some things to celebrate. Here at Carrothers Orthopaedic, we continued to make great strides in Mako robotic assisted surgery. This ground-breaking technology uses a robotic arm to complement the surgeon’s skill and expertise in joint replacement surgery. It is used for people with severe joint pain caused by arthritis, avascular necrosis or severe fractures.
In the last few months, we passed the 150 milestone for the number of completed Mako procedures and I became the first orthopaedic surgeon in the UK to perform all three types of Mako surgery in the same patient – partial knee, total knee and total hip replacement. We will continue to offer this innovative surgical approach and have recently become part of the UK Stryker Mako surgeon faculty, helping in the certification of other surgeons to use the Mako robot technology.
Also this year, you may have seen the BBC Two programme ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’ which showcases pioneering surgical work at the boundaries of medical science. In the programme I performed the Harrington Plus procedure on a patient whose pelvis and hip bones had been weakened by cancer. The surgery became a battle to save the patient’s life as he began to bleed heavily from cancerous tissue. The programme helped to increase awareness of NHS palliative care for patients with pelvic metastatic cancer, highlighting the complex, high risk surgeries for this fragile patient group.
One of the other areas where we contribute to UK research is in the treatment of serious acetabulum/pelvic fractures in the older population. Often resulting from trauma, such fractures have potentially life-changing consequences. We are particularly proud of the fact that, despite the challenges of Covid this year, we succeeded in overseeing the full recruitment of 60 patients to the NIHR RFPB AceFIT trial of patients over 60 years, with acetabular fractures. As Chief Investigator, we are eagerly awaiting the findings of the trial early in the New Year. Data is currently being analysed and we hope it will help to provide a better understanding of the treatment options and advance the standard of care for patients facing this particularly challenging pelvic and acetabular injury problem.
Finally, I wanted to say a few personal thank yous to the people who have supported us this year. I work hard to maximise every patient’s outcome – and will continue to do so going forward – but this would not be possible without the support of my fantastic team.
I would particularly like to recognise the amazing efforts of surgical colleagues, nurses, anaesthetists and administrators, as well as applauding the vital post-operative care provided by general practitioners and rehabilitation colleagues who are physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors.
And I’d also like to thank you, our patients, for the many kind words you have written on the independent review platform, I Want Great Care. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences, as it is so valuable for other patients to be able to hear at first-hand how you have been cared for and treated. It gives them reassurance that their own pain can be overcome, so thank you!
I am in no doubt that 2020 has brought individual challenges to you and your life and that, like me, you will be hoping that next year we will be able to return to some kind of normality. If you are living with pain, I imagine this year has been particularly tough and I would like to offer you my personal reassurance that it is possible to find relief from musculoskeletal pain – even severe, debilitating pain – and I would be happy to talk to you about what I would recommend in your particular circumstances.
From all of us here at Carrothers Orthopaedics, wishing you a very Happy New Year.