Spinal Services

Spinal surgeons carry out a wide variety of spinal surgery, from simple procedures to the complex removal of tumours. Many of the conditions dealt with are not life-threatening but can have a major impact on quality of life. It is estimated that one-third of the population is suffering with lower back pain at any point in time.

This GIRFT national report on spinal surgery focuses on spinal emergency conditions such as cauda equina syndrome, spinal cord injury, spinal infection and spinal trauma, as well as looking at the management of common spinal conditions such as back and radicular pain (sciatica), the biggest cause of disability in the UK. The review also looks at the provision of paediatric spinal surgery.

The recommendations focus on how spinal services can make better use of resources and improve outcomes for patients by supporting earlier discharge from hospital, reducing the number of cancelled operations, increasing the number of available beds and ensuring trusts can deliver the services that best match their skills and competence.

Mike Hutton

Clinical Lead for Spinal Surgery

Mike is a consultant spine surgeon and the national lead for spinal services optimisation and recovery for the NHS England & NHS Improvement BestMSKHealth improvement programme.

He worked at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust from 2007 to 2021, undertaking complex spine procedures in all areas of spinal surgery, including paediatric and adult spine deformity.

He currently works at Exeter Medical and Ramsay New Hall Hospital.

Mike held an executive position with the British Association of Spine Surgeons from 2009 to 2019 and led the British Spine Registry from 2012 to 2019. He was an expert advisor to the MHRA from 2012 to 2021 and has developed a National Emergency Referral Tool, which links to the British Spinal Registry.

He is currently the co-chair of the Spinal Orthopaedic Data Evaluation Panel and Beyond Compliance programme, and chair of the national Suspected Cauda Equina Pathway improvement programme.

Useful information

  • GIRFT’s clinical lead for spinal services Mike Hutton also worked as the lead for spinal services with the Best MSK Health Collaborative, until the programme closed in October 2022.  Resources that were jointly produced with Best MSK can be found on FutureNHS, including advice leaflets for patients on interpreting MRI findings and for clinicians to support their decision-making in requesting a scan.

Spinal surgery report may bring benefits for tens of thousands of back pain patients

Replacing short-term pain relief injections with long-term physical and psychological rehabilitation programmes could help tens of thousands more patients cope with debilitating back pain, according to a new Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) report on spinal surgery.

Lower back or radicular pain (sciatica) is the primary cause of disability in the UK. It affects one-third of the population at any one time, and 84% of people in their lifetime.

The latest GIRFT national report found that, despite NICE guidance, a significant number of patients are still receiving facet joint injections (injections of local anaesthetic and/or steroids to block pain), which have limited clinical value. On average between 2015 and 2018, almost 6% of patients with back pain received three or more facet joint injections in a year, at a cost to the NHS of £10.5m.

In January 2019, GIRFT published its national speciality report for Spinal Surgery:

Click above to view the pdf report

Watch the video about the Spinal Surgery report…

Click above to play the Spinal Surgery national report video

Spinal Services Academy Resources