Online toolkit launched to help develop excellence in running a surgical hub

A new online toolkit has been launched to support the development of surgical hubs and help hospital trusts establish sites specifically for planned operations and procedures.

The comprehensive online toolkit, which guides NHS colleagues through the detailed processes of setting up and running an effective surgical hub, supports a key NHS priority to tackle waiting times and ensure patients have timely access to the surgery they need.

The Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme has worked closely with the team at the South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre (SWLEOC) to develop the new resource. It outlines the ‘must-do’ critical steps of running a hub, as well as sharing some of the challenges SWLEOC has faced over the years – enabling those building a service from scratch or expanding an existing hub to avoid potential pitfalls and get it right first time.

The extensive content drills down into SWLEOC’s specific working practices and experiences and offers a unique opportunity to learn from an established centre of excellence. Spanning all stages of the patient pathway – from referrals to post-operative review and discharge – it also focuses in detail on operational considerations such as staffing, IT and estate. Among the supporting resources are a range of standard operating procedures (SOPs), service level agreements (SLAs) and other business-critical information.

The toolkit is supported by an elective surgical hub forum, where users can share information and have conversations to support implementation.

"This innovative resource is the culmination of months of collaboration between our GIRFT team and SWLEOC colleagues, making sure we have captured the level of detail teams will find most helpful in their hub journey. We hope that everyone working to set up a new hub or extend the scope of an existing one will make the most of this opportunity to learn from SWLEOC’s excellence, especially the opportunity to glean some inside knowledge from a team who have honed their processes over two decades."

A key element of the NHS elective recovery strategy is to increase surgical capacity for planned operations through elective surgical hubs. There are currently more than 90 across England, with more planned to become operational over the next two years with funding from NHS England.

GIRFT is working to support providers and systems with establishing new surgical hubs and expanding existing ones to speed up access to some of the most common procedures, such as cataract surgery and hip replacements, and to help reduce waiting times for operations.

The SWLEOC centre is an established elective hub of 19 years, which has consistently demonstrated top decile performance and is widely acknowledged as a model of excellence for elective orthopaedic care. Staff at the centre perform around 5,200 procedures a year, 3,000 of them joint replacements. As such, the centre attracts a lot of visitors to the site, keen to learn from their best practice.

In capturing SWLEOC’s learning and resources, the new toolkit enables NHS colleagues to follow their lead without the need for an on-site visit.

Professor Tim Briggs, Chair of the GIRFT programme and National Director for Clinical Improvement and Elective Recovery for NHS England, said: “Elective hubs are a vital part of the NHS recovery plan, and we are working hard to support providers to get 40 more hubs established or expanded over the next two years. Learning from the best practice in this toolkit will help to accelerate the process, ultimately allowing more patients to have their surgery sooner.”

Professor Richard Field, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Epsom & St Helier NHS Trust and Founding Director of Research at SWLEOC, added: “At SWLEOC we have long been welcoming visitors to the centre, who come to see how we do things and glean some insight to take back to their own trusts. This toolkit enables us to give everyone that tour without the need for travel, and we are delighted to be able to share it with you.”

Video tour of the GIRFT & SWLEOC elective hub toolkit

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