Hip surgery waiting times increase at James Paget

The time it takes for someone with a hip fracture to get surgery in the region is falling, according to new figures.

Getting early surgery for patients with a hip fracture, who tend to be elderly, reduces deaths, complications and how long patients have to stay in hospital.

The 2011 report by the National Hip Fracture Database (NHFD), published today, shows that more patients are being admitted promptly to orthopaedic wards and delays for operation have been reduced, with the great majority of patients now having surgery within 48 hours.

At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, 87pc of hip fracture patients received surgery within 48 hours, a rise from 80.4pc the year before and above the national average of 86pc.

The James Paget University Hospital saw it rise from 82.7pc to 93.2pc, and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn from 84.4pc to 94.9pc this year.

The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds had 91.6pc of patients given surgery within 48 hours.

Dr Colin Currie, consultant geriatrician and chair of the NHFD implementation group, said: “This report shows how a national audit addressing the care of a serious common injury can make a difference on a national scale.

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“The combination of reliable data, achievable standards, continuous feedback, and available know-how has attracted widespread clinical and managerial support, with real gains in both the quality and cost-effectiveness of hip fracture care.

“Clinical teams can look at their own data, spot problems, work together, make changes, and see measurable benefits resulting for the patients they look after.”

Despite such substantial national and local improvements, the report shows that there is still some way to go before every hip-fracture patient can expect the best care, and significant variation persists across the country.

Two per cent of medically-fit patients still wait more than four days for surgery – with serious implications for their recovery and survival.

Last month, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said hospitals still needed to do better.

In its first clinical guideline on hip fracture, NICE states that hip fracture operations should be carried out promptly – on the first day or the day after the patient is admitted to hospital.

There can be poor outcomes for people with hip fractures, as about a third die within 12 months.

Most deaths are not due to the fracture itself, but result from other complications or conditions already present in the patient.

This is why NICE is also recommending hospitals have a hip fracture programme which is based around a hospital ward and involves surgeons, physicians, anaesthetists, nurses and physiotherapists working together.