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9th January 2013
Steve Lowden, independent chair of the Patient & Public Advisory Group
Advances in surgical knowledge and technology offer tremendous benefits for patients.
But, if we are going to take full advantage of that potential, we must recognise that the way that the NHS delivers surgery in future needs to change.
Six years ago, Lord Darzi published an important paper called “From Saws and Scalpels to Lasers and Robots” which set out the clinical case for change in surgery. The core proposals included moving away from providing surgery at district general hospitals. Instead, the bulk of patients would be treated at local day surgeries with more complex cases going to specialist centralised surgeries.
Coming right up to date, earlier this week the Royal College of Surgeons outlined its latest thoughts on the way surgical services should be run. The RCS also believes that many complicated operations need to move to specialist centres quoting evidence that patients are safer and have fewer complications when operated-on by more specialised surgeons.
Arguing that reconfiguration should be driven by sound clinical evidence rather than financial pressure, the RSC also states that patients and the public need to be at the centre of the debates and their concerns must be listened to.
I couldn’t have put it better myself. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve through the Healthier Together programme.
This year will see some of the biggest structural changes in the NHS’s history. But, let’s also work to ensure that 2013 is the year when patients, members of the public, NHS staff, clinicians and commissioners seize the opportunities that have been presented to us – and secure a healthier future together.
The RCS’s full report on reshaping surgical services is available at