Why did you decide to introduce the Rapid Recovery Programme to Hillingdon?
Well it does what it says on the tin, it gets patients to recover as quickly as possible. But for me the most exciting bit was that the team, and in fact some of the patients that they‘ve recruited, were the ones who demonstrated the enthusiasm to make it work.
And it was truly one of the first times that we could honestly say that patients were involved from start to finish; they know what’s going to happen to them, they get alongside some peer group, they have support, they understand what the operation’s going to mean, they know they’re going to go home quickly, and they know what the after care is, and everybody is excited by it. What’s not to support?!
What would you say are the main benefits to the hospital?
Well clearly the benefits are the fact that they stay 3 to 4 days, where a few years ago they might have stayed 11 or 12 days, and that’s no benefit to them, its certainly no benefit to me in terms of cost, but from a PR point of view, just about every patient goes home happy. And of course they insist on telling everybody how wonderful it is, and it is. And you’ve only got to see the enthusiasm of the doctors, nurses, physios, to think this has got to be great.
How do you feel the programme can benefit the future status of the hospital?
Well just the fact that patients stay less, there are less complications because their recovery is more rapid, it means less readmissions, or outpatient appointments, and as I say they sell themselves as ambassadors. You have a good news story, particularly where your health’s concerned, you’ll tell 30, 40, 50 people, so if you’ve got a bad news one you’ll tell 200, so we’re absolutely delighted and because it’s now becoming a national programme it will become associated with Hillingdon as the early trailblazers.
What role do you hope that GP’s will have in the Rapid Recovery Programme?
Well in the future we would hope that they start to, in the early stages, of preparing the patients to want to enrol in Rapid Recovery because the whole issue is the confidence of the patients, and I’m not sure I’d be rushing to have a joint replacement, but if I was, I‘d like to know that everybody in the chain who is going to be involved has the same level of confidence and enthusiasm about it.
With regards to staff at the hospital, in particular those who have been involved with the Rapid Recovery Programme, have you had much feedback from them about the programme and how they feel about it?
Well they’re tremendously excited because for once, all the evidence about what sometimes appears as though we’re rushing patients through the service, actually works, because we’re not just rushing them to get them in and out of the bed or to get them mobilised just for the sake of it. Everybody understands where that fits in terms of the ultimate goal, which is 6 or 7 weeks later the patient is actually back to normal full functioning, and their joint replacement is just a distant memory.
I think that’s a concern that some GPs have had, that patients may be sent back home before they’re ready, and that that can be an additional drain on resource for them. What would you say to that?
Well first things first, we have to get them to understand that whilst typically, 3-4 days patients will go home, there’s no hard and fast rule, this is designed around individual patients. If they need to stay 5 or 6 days, they will. Plus of course there’s a whole after care programme in terms of physio, they have a contact number for the hospital if they have any concerns about their pain, which is typically the problem, or wound care, so the GPs don’t have to be involved with unnecessary calls, or dealing with things they’re not involved in. Plus of course the GP is informed from start to finish that this patient has been selected and consented for the Rapid Recovery Programme.