Inside Team Valley’s brand new commercial estate surgery, which doctors in Tyneside hope can help the backlogged NHS
The team behind the brand new operating theaters at Team Valley Trading Estate hope their new state-of-the-art premises will help the NHS reduce massive waiting lists and make it easier for patients in the North East to get lifesaving treatments.
The Tyneside Surgical Services group has been providing NHS procedures since 2007 – previously working from otherwise unused theater space in local hospitals and from bases in area health centres.
But he recently opened a brand new surgical suite on the Team Valley Trading Estate featuring three flexible spaces including a theater, as well as adaptable endoscopy and pain management facilities that can be converted into additional space to perform outpatient surgeries. .
Read more: Omicron wave hit ‘around 10%’ of elective operations at North East NHS Trust in January
The idea is to build NHS capacity by helping to undertake procedures that can be treated without requiring a patient to be admitted to hospital overnight. It comes as hospitals in the region grapple with spiraling post-Covid waiting lists, and the TSS team believe using their facilities can free up NHS trusts to make inroads into their backlog of more complex cases.
TSS offers ten specialties ranging from orthopedic surgery to gynecological procedures. Its consultants also all have NHS practices – while the executives have extensive experience working for local hospital trusts.
Steve Atkinson – commercial director of TSS – remains a registered nurse and spent 35 years working for the NHS in Gateshead. He said: “You go to your GP with, say, a hand problem – your GP says it’s something that needs a consultant’s opinion, and then as a patient you can go in line and make an appointment We are part of this menu of options If after this it is a treatment you need, you will be put on the TSS waiting list.
“Patients should know that we have short wait times, everything we do is consultant-led, and we consistently receive five-star reviews from the people we treat.”
It works through the government’s NHS e-Referral service – formerly known as Choose and Book – and Health Secretary Sajid Javid this year outlined plans to allow patients waiting for surgery the right to choose where they want to have it.
TSS carried out the first operations at its new base in January this year – and saw around 350 patients a month in February and March. But Mr Atkinson said he and his colleagues believe the flexible facilities, which also include recovery bays and a high-tech scanning kit, have the ability to double the number of people TSS sees through the doors.
“We’ve reduced our own waiting lists considerably. It’s now about 18 weeks of waiting, not far off where we were before the pandemic,” he said. “Right now we’re probably only using, we think, about 50% of our capacity. We think we can see about 2-3,000 more patients a year.”
He also pointed out that TSS works closely with local NHS trusts – and may involve entering into contracts to carry out surgical work. The buildings – which feature air management units and high-tech ventilation – have been set up and are being managed with the help of QE Facilities, a company wholly owned by the Gateshead Health NHS Trust.
Mr Atkinson added: “The QE facilities team have been tremendously supportive of us. We couldn’t have done it without them. We work with the NHS and we treat NHS patients and we have been put in place to add to NHS capacity.”
TSS Medical Director Hamdy Ashour is an experienced vascular surgeon who has worked in area hospitals. He said the green nature of the new buildings included “a lot of things that you won’t see in most hospitals”, and added: “We have 10 specialties that we do here. Most of our work is surgical but we also do gastrointestinal and pain management clinics.
“The majority of NHS work is done on an outpatient basis. I’m a surgeon by training and when I started someone had to be in hospital for a week for varicose vein surgery, now it’s going to be for a few days the hours.”
Mr Ashour also explained that TSS had “extremely thorough” assessments in place to ensure that all those referred were suitable for day treatment – as there are cases where, due to someone’s wider medical circumstances one, he would be better cared for as an inpatient at a local hospital. These patients are referred to the right services.
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