A programme of elective surgery is to resume at Noble’s Hospital, following a temporary pause which began in the latter half of October due to staffing shortages.
Over the last six weeks, urgent, emergency and trauma surgery has been maintained, alongside the delivery of cancer surgery, diagnostic procedures such as Endoscopy, and some minor procedures requiring only a local anaesthetic.
However, from Monday 6 December 2021, an additional theatre will open for the delivery of some day-case procedures, re-establishing the typical level of elective surgery that would be delivered at Noble’s across the winter period. The level of planned elective procedures being delivered in any hospital typically reduces over the winter months to account for the increased pressure experienced across the system at that time of year.
Manx Care is continuing to work with tertiary care providers in the UK to identify hospitals with the capacity to deliver planned orthopaedic procedures to some patients on its waiting lists in order to supplement its on-Island capacity, and to continue its focus on reducing its waiting lists. This will give some patients the choice of having their elective procedure here on-Island, or at a specialist centre in the UK. Any patient who will be offered this choice will be contacted directly by Manx Care to discuss their options.
Elective surgery was paused at Noble’s Hospital in late October as a result of staffing shortages within its Operating and Post-Operative Recovery departments, with Manx Care taking the opportunity to deliver a theatre improvement programme in that time. This includes the upgrade of its theatre equipment, and the delivery of a comprehensive development and training programme for theatre staff, including simulation training. Many of these staff have also been supporting the delivery of care to patients in the non-Covid ICU Department over the last few months.
In addition, the organisation has re-focused its recruitment activity to address some of its staffing shortages. This situation isn’t unique to the Isle of Man, with NHS Trusts also facing critical staffing pressures. It’s estimated that there are currently around 40,000 Nurse vacancies and 10,000 Doctor vacancies alone across the UK, with Manx Care competing with UK NHS Trusts to recruit new colleagues. Over the last month it has appointed a number of new Specialists to support its exiting workforce including three Respiratory Medicine Consultants, a Consultant Radiologist, a Consultant Anaesthetist, a Consultant Geriatrician and a Urologist.
Alongside this, it continues to work with specialist medical recruitment agencies to attract the best talent to the Isle of Man – new colleagues who are not only appropriately qualified, but who share Manx Care’s vision of delivering exceptional patient-centred care. Through one partnership, more than 60 Nurses and a number of Doctors will join Manx Care over the coming months, with the first of those new colleagues arriving on-Island this month.
Manx Care’s CEO, Teresa Cope, commented:
'The resumption of planned elective procedures at the reduced rate typically delivered across the winter period means that we can continue to focus on providing treatment to those people who are currently on our waiting lists for surgery, in operating theatres which are more adequately staffed and which have been upgraded with new equipment.
'We are looking to specialist centres in the UK to help us focus on the continued reduction of our waiting lists by securing extra capacity, supplementing the operating capacity we’re able to provide here on the Island and offering some of our patients a choice around their planned care. This is an interim measure whilst we address our critical workforce challenge, which is the single biggest risk currently facing Manx Care.
'It’s important that we do look to secure additional capacity from specialist centres in the UK in the short-term whilst simultaneously progressing our overseas recruitment campaign. Quite simply, we cannot continue to address our waiting lists and safely deliver patient care here on-Island without doing both of these things. Some of the patients on our waiting lists have been waiting for their planned care for too long, and this is unacceptable. All of the measures we’re taking are being taken with the best interests of our patients and service users at the forefront of our minds, and will help us to continue developing our services so that they’re sustainable for the long-term benefit of Manx residents.'