Surrey GP out-of-hours Service
Surrey GP Out of Hours Service

Chance encounter sees waiting time slashed

November 1 2018

A chance conversation while booking a holiday has seen a Stoke-on-Trent man significantly cut the time he had to wait for NHS treatment.

Roy Gingell, who works as a specialist commercial electrician, had driven to Barlborough, in Derbyshire, with his wife to book a holiday with a specialist cruise travel agent. He happened to mention that he was waiting for a total knee replacement, as flying is prohibited for three months after some surgeries, and he had no idea when his delayed surgery would take place.

He said: “The travel agent mentioned that Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre, which was opposite the shop, has incredibly short waiting lists and can take NHS patients from other parts of the country if they have a GP’s letter of referral.”

Mr Gingell contacted the surgery and arranged for his GP to send the referral letter. Within two weeks he had his pre-operative appointment with the centre’s lead orthopaedic surgeon.  He said: “It was very impressive. In a three-hour appointment I had meetings with the surgeon, anaesthetist and physiotherapist as well as having my MRI and tests. Being self-employed you really appreciate not having to go back and forwards for different appointments.”

The X-ray revealed significant damage caused by osteoarthritis in both knees - explaining the high levels of pain he had been experiencing. Mr Gingell was given the option of which knee would be replaced first and he opted for the right.

Five weeks later he was back at the centre for the operation. He said: “Everyone was so professional but relaxed and very friendly. The centre ran very smoothly and even the food was good.”

The operation was carried out under a local anaesthesia, while Mr Gingell was lightly sedated. This removes the risks of side effects that can be experienced after a general anaesthetic and enables the patient to start working with a physiotherapist just hours after returning to the ward. This radically reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis and allows many patients to leave the hospital just two days after surgery. Although the treatment centre has never had a case of hospital-acquired infection, returning home further reduces the chances of an infection.

Mr Gingell was delighted with the results. After more physiotherapy and work on his exercise bike, he was able to return to some of his work and to his hobbies of model making and being able to drive and maintain his restored classic car - a 1960 Ford Zodiac.

He will also be able to enjoy the cruise that he and his wife Jacqueline booked – pain-free - and he says that when they are back he will start thinking about having his second knee replaced. He said: “I would not hesitate to go back to the centre and, because the X-ray revealed the extent of the damage on both knees, I will not even need to see my GP. I can just call and make a booking to start the process.”

Hospital director Steve Booker said: “NHS treatment centres were created to take the pressure off larger hospitals. We only carry out planned surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements, cataract removals and spinal surgery. Because we do not have A&E services we can plan our workloads, and this means we have very short waiting times.

“I am very happy to see Mr Gingell has been able to return back to some of his work, a priority for self-employed people everywhere. I am also intrigued to see the Ford Zodiac, and I hope he brings it when he comes back to us to be assessed for his second knee replacement.”