Orthopaedic teams across the Health Board working differently to provide essential care

During the outbreak of COVID-19 Orthopaedic teams across the Health Board are working differently to ensure people still have access to the care they need.  

Although elective surgery has been temporarily postponed, the Orthopaedic teams are still supporting patients in different ways, such as carrying out patient reviews over the telephone and continuing to carry out emergency trauma operations.

Plans have also been put in place to ensure care is still available for patients with musculoskeletal injuries.

Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s Orthopaedic team have created a one-stop Consultant led service within their department to support these types of patients.

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Trauma Lead, Mr David Barlow, said: “Early on during this pandemic we decided we needed to establish a service where patients can be seen quickly to reduce their time in the hospital, and also to reduce the pressure on our Emergency Department.

“We are now into our second month of running an efficient minor injuries service in our own department, as well as continuing with our normal trauma lists for our emergency patients.

“However, patients with a minor injury now come directly to us, rather than into the Emergency Department.

“We see a number of different injuries from cuts and bruises to more serious injuries which may require a small operation, which we can do in our Minor Operating Theatre within the department.

“Our priority was to prevent patients from waiting a long time to be seen for treatment and also the need for patients to return to hospital for a follow up appointment with a specialist. This service allows patients to be seen quicker and prevents many of them needing to return for further treatment.

“The teams involved include specialist surgeons, nurses, plaster technicians and physiotherapists to ensure we have cover available during 8am to midnight seven days a week, with our normal on call service continuing between those times, to provide the best possible care for our patients.”

At Ysbyty Gwynedd they are delivering a consultant delivered emergency service and also supporting their colleagues within nearby community hospitals.

Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon, Mr Agustin Soler, said: “At the start of the pandemic we knew we had to change the way we delivered our fracture clinics to minimise the patient footprint into the hospital.

“As well as running our regular on call service we now have an additional dedicated Consultant available between 8am – 5pm who can make the senior decisions on what care the patient needs. This can either prevent them from coming into hospital or reduce the need for them to come back for further treatment.

“This has reduced the number of admissions and clinic appointments. Those who do need to be seen by a member of our specialist team are seen in a safe environment, treated and in some cases will need to return in a few weeks, depending on their injury.

“To adhere to social distancing guidelines we now see the patients adjacent to the Emergency Department, rather than the fracture clinic, which was an enclosed space and not suitable during these times.

“It has also been important to us to support our colleagues in the community and we are doing this by offering advice and support to staff in the Minor Injury Units who are seeing patients with injuries that can be treated locally, rather than in hospital.”

At Ysbyty Glan Clwyd a new temporary Surgical Emergency Department has been established at the front of the hospital.

Miss Louisa Banks, Trauma and Orthopaedic Consultant, said: “Due to our elective service being postponed, we decided to form a new department to keep our patients as safe as possible during this time.

“Rather than attend the Emergency Department, patients are now triaged and directed to the ideal person to deal with their injury within the large Surgical Emergency Department.

“We wanted to create a Consultant led service and maintain an environment that is as safe as possible for our patients, to reduce the risk from coronavirus and prevent recurrent and unnecessary visits to the hospital.

“The department has been working really well and other surgical teams such as the vascular, general, Ear Nose and Throat and Maxillofacial surgical teams have now moved into this area to see patients who require urgent treatment.”