Support available for Morecambe Bay patients to be 'set for surgery'

The Morecambe Bay ‘Set for surgery’ programme aims to improve the health of all patients who may be approaching surgery – even when, for some, surgery is no longer needed when their fitness improves.

By Michelle Blade
Monday, 8th November 2021, 2:56 pm
The Royal Lancaster Infirmary. Photo by Kelvin Stuttard.
The Royal Lancaster Infirmary. Photo by Kelvin Stuttard.

Co-designed by surgeons, GPs and patients, the process empowers patients to work with our staff, whereby the health system will give the best possible care and treatment to patients, and improve their wellness ahead of surgery; in turn, patients should take advice from health professionals and others about improving their own health and wellbeing. 

By taking part, patients should benefit by recovering more quickly and improving their general health.

In some cases, improvements may also result in not needing surgery at all, which ​may be the best outcome for patients.

Currently, the focus is on patients having routine general and orthopaedic surgery.

A cohort of patients were identified last winter to take part in a pilot scheme to trial the ‘ Set for Surgery’ programme , of those that chose to take part 80% had real life improvements in health, such as stopping smoking and increased exercise, by the end of the period.   

Brenda B, a patient in the initial cohort from Lancaster, said: "I was a bit skeptical at first, but the hospital staff reassured me that it wouldn’t delay my surgery. I knew that I was on the heavy side and decided that now was a good time to try and make some changes.

"The advice and support I was given was sensible and I agreed to a follow up call. I was really pleased because, although I haven’t lost a considerable amount of weight, my weight is going down and I intend to keep eating sensibly whilst waiting for my surgery.” 

 As part of the programme, patients will receive an e-leaflet with links to online resources such as the stop smoking services, free trial periods for local fitness centres and help with drug or alcohol issues.

In addition, it will have a link to the patient charter and some patients may receive information regarding the Patient Activation Measure (PAM) self-assessment tool, to better target those most in need of help. 

The PAM tool helps patients to identify areas for self-improvement, by rating their health and fitness on a sliding scale. 

Patients will receive the e-leaflet ​and resources digitally, via email or text message, in most cases. Those who have not supplied an email address or mobile telephone number, will receive theirs vie the post. 

 Wendy Craig, Consultant General Surgeon at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay who has been leading on this programme, said: “We carry out hundreds of operations each month and it is clear that patients who have a higher level of general health and fitness are able to recover more quickly.

"This is better for everyone as it means patients can return to their own homes and lives more quickly, with fewer complications and readmissions - and we are able to free up space in our hospitals for those still on the waiting list.

"The ambition to implement this approach for non-urgent surgeries was held long before the pandemic, however in light of the current circumstances it’s now more important than ever to ensure that patients coming in to hospital for surgery are at the best possible level of fitness.

"Just as you would train for ​running a race, we are asking patients to prepare for surgery, to enhance their outcomes”   

  “It’s really important that our patients know this programme is for everyone. This isn’t just about stopping smoking or losing weight, though that is important; it’s about improving the health of people across Morecambe Bay.

"Some surgical procedures can be seen as common and there’s an impression that they aren’t serious, however every surgery carries risks. In some cases improvements to health and fitness will remove the need for surgery altogether.”   

  “If you receive the e-leaflet please do visit the resource pages. There are services across Morecambe Bay which can help you.”