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Orthopaedic surgery could be carried out in Kent as sites reduced from seven to two

Proposals to reduce the number of adult orthopaedic service sites across south east London from seven to two are being considered by the NHS – which means patients may have to have planned operations in Kent.

The plan is to create two centres with dedicated operating theatres and ring-fenced beds, which all orthopaedic consultants would use to carry out operations such as replacing hip and knee joints as well as more complex surgery.

The two elective orthopaedic centres could be based at Guy’s Hospital, University Hospital Lewisham, Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup or Orpington Hospital in Kent.

There are currently six “potential combinations” for which two of the four sites will be chosen, with one potentially seeing patients travel out to Orpington Hospital and Queen Mary’s, Sidcup.

Any other orthopaedic care, such as emergency and outpatient appointments will still continue at existing hospital sites.

An expected 25 per cent increase in demand over the next five years is one of the reasons for the proposals, led by south east London clinical commissioning groups, hospitals and other health services.

GP and chair of NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Dr Jonty Heaversedge said: “Services are already under immense pressure and simply won’t be able to cope with this additional demand. We have to find a solution for this.”

The NHS is trying to address long patient waiting lists, and how to reduce cancelled surgery.

Dr Heaversedge added: “By bringing these operations together into two elective orthopaedic centres for south east London, we would be able to accept many more cases than we currently can, patients would have more certainty that their operation will go ahead, they will have a shorter stay in hospital and, perhaps most importantly, the evidence suggests they will have a better outcome from their surgery.”

Before any changes are made a full public consultation will be carried out, which could take place later this year.

The potential six site configurations will be evaluated in September, taking into account patient travel times, affordability, patient experience and the NHS workforce.

The centres would be shared facilities with a dedicated team, including nurses and therapists on site, working alongside surgeons.

South East London NHS has proposed two sites as they claim it could be the most efficient solution, and would help patients in both inner and outer boroughs.

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