Innovative partnership set to reduce pressure on orthopaedic surgery

An innovative partnership between University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and independent health care provider Care UK looks set to reduce waiting times and cancellations for elective (planned) orthopaedic surgery in the South West.

The partnership is believed to be the first of its kind between an NHS trust and an independent provider of orthopaedic surgical services.

The initiative, called the Plymouth Orthopaedic Partnership, will see all elective orthopaedic surgery save for paediatric cases or with additional extreme health issues, carried out at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre in Plymouth – a hospital which is run by Care UK.

Procedures will be carried out by clinicians from both hospitals. Treatments will be available via GP referral, with outpatient appointments shared across both facilities. It is thought that in the region of 5,000 surgical procedures a year will be carried out under the new arrangement.

In order to facilitate the Plymouth Orthopaedic Project, Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre is recruiting nationally for an extra 30 to 40 members of staff. It is also undergoing a capital investment which will see six extra in-patient beds and the relocation of pharmacy and administration within the existing building.

Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre has successfully carried out tens of thousands of orthopaedic procedures for NHS patients across Devon and Cornwall, since it first opened its doors in April 2005. It was one of the first so-called Independent Sector Treatment Centres to open in the UK, as part of the then Labour Government’s initiative to introduce the independent sector to the running of some NHS services. The initiative was designed to improve patient choice and bring in new, efficient ways of working.

Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre was the first hospital of its kind to be rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission, and it outperforms the national average in all health care delivery and quality measures. Since it opened it has experienced zero cases of C.Diff. and MRSA. In addition to orthopaedic procedures, other treatments available include cataract surgery, hernia repair, gall gladder removal and endoscopy – all of which will continue to be carried out as they have always done so, in tandem with operations via the Plymouth Orthopaedic Partnership.

Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre has enjoyed a close working relationship with Plymouth University Hospitals NHS Trust from the beginning, with close ties including shared sterile services and pathology.

The first patients to be referred for treatment via the Plymouth Orthopaedic Partnership will have their initial outpatient assessments from early December.

The arrangement will last initially for 18 months and will virtually eliminate 52 week waits for patients and result in efficiencies across theatres at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust which will have a positive knock-on effect to other specialities, such as neurosurgery.

Andy Lunt, Managing Director Secondary Care from Care UK commented: “This is a ground breaking partnership between an NHS Trust and independent health care provider. It is one which has patient benefit at its heart and which chimes well with the founding principles of the independent sector treatment centre model. We look forward to working with University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust to make this a success, driving down waiting times for orthopaedic surgery in the region and creating a template which could be replicated across the country.”

More information about Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre is available by visiting