Queen Alexandra Hospital's lengthy surgery waiting lists could be cut with new anaesthesia roles

FOUR new anaesthesia specialists are set to help improve lengthy surgery waiting lists at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Anaesthesia associates are starting at the Cosham hospital in autumn, in a bid to boost capacity on operating lists.

It comes as the waiting lists at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust had reached their highest numbers since records began

NHS statistics show 36,653 patients were listed as waiting for elective operations or treatment at PHU at the end of March this year - up from 35,948 at the end of February and up from 33,802 in March 2020.

Lead anaesthesia associate at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Lisa Churchill. Picture: Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust

It was also the highest figure for the month of March since comparable records began in 2012.

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Anaesthesia associates were first introduced in the UK in 2005 and provide services to patients requiring anaesthesia, respiratory care, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life sustaining services – as well as deputising for anaesthetists where needed.

Lead anaesthesia associate Lisa Churchill was one of the practitioners who originally came over from Switzerland in 2005 and has been seconded from Hywel Dda University Health Board to help set up the programme at PHU.

She said: ‘It was really exciting to be a part of a two-year pilot with the aim of introducing this unique role to the UK, which I have continued to do since. I have seen this role expand since 2005, with over 200 anaesthesia associates up and down the country.

‘I am really passionate about this, so I am delighted to be here.’

The new associates at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham will undertake a 27-month distance learning course with Birmingham University.

Vaughan Lewis, medical director at NHS England and NHS Improvement South East, added: ‘Hospitals across the South East have responded rapidly to Covid-19 and are now increasing the number of operations performed to accelerate the restoration of services.

‘The introduction of anaesthesia associates is one way to reduce operating theatre downtime, leading to increased capacity on operating lists and improved theatre utilisation – which means more patients’ can be seen, faster.’

QA Hospital is the first in the south east to use the associates.

Across England, the number of people waiting to start hospital treatment rose to 4.95 million in March this year – the highest total since records began in August 2007.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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