All change - and it’s led to huge acclaim for Hartlepool hospital unit

The Ward 4 team which has won big praise.
The Ward 4 team which has won big praise.

A forward-thinking Hartlepool hospital unit has won national acclaim - and an award - for bringing in far-reaching changes.

The elective care unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool has reduced costs, improved recovery times and brought down the time patients have to stay on the wards.

It’s a fantastic achievement for the team who have all worked together to make improvements to the unit which have helped improve patient care and helped reduce costs so that more money can go directly into patient care

Anwar Jafri

In a series of impressive changes, the unit - also known as Ward 4 - has;

Slashed patient stays on the award from 5.5 to 3.4 days. It’s all down to enhanced care and being monitored by an anaesthetist the day after surgery.

Saved £8,000 a year thanks to a complete change over nutrition drinks. Patients used to be asked to drink them the night before an operation but many weren’t. But further changes mean patients can now eat straight after surgery and no longer need to have the drinks.

Huge savings are being made on paracetamol costs. They used to be costing the trust £1.25 a pack and every patient was being given two boxes – one before and one after surgery. But big change has happened after the trust began holding education classes at the University Hospitals of Hartlepool and North Tees. And patients who are having surgery are being asked to bring their own paracetamol and most are doing so (a box of paracetamol costs as little as 16p).

The unit puts a sticker on every pair of crutches asking patients and staff to return them – this has led to a large rise in returns.

All of the changes have led to the unit winning national recognition. Anwar Jafri, consultant lower limb orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, presented a poster at the British Orthopaedic Association annual conference, showing the work.

Judges were clearly impressed - Mr Jafri was presented as the winner of the clinical leaders programme poster prize award category.

He said: “It’s a fantastic achievement for the team who have all worked together to make improvements to the unit which have helped improve patient care and helped reduce costs so that more money can go directly into patient care.

“Orthopaedics at the University Hospital of Hartlepool has been part of a number of changes recently. One of these was that the service was upgraded so that patients with more complex health issues are able to have the surgery they need at Hartlepool (known as ASA grade 3).

“We also recently ran a programme where we looked at improvements which could be made to the way we run our patient operating lists and how patients recover in hospital after surgery. Staff embraced this project and came up with several excellent ideas which have since been put in place.”

Ward matron Linda Wildberg said: “The whole team deserves a lot of praise for the way they have come up with innovative ways of improving the care we give to our patients and then embracing these changes. Congratulations to everyone involved.”