As we get older visits to doctors and to hospitals get rather more frequent. My first bit of big surgery was in September 2002. It was to replace a wear-damaged hip with a new one. It all went well and I was out of hospital in 7 days. But this blog entry is being written 9 years later and this time it as a new knee. What a difference. I arrived at 7 a.m and the operation started at 8.30 a.m. It done under a spinal nerve block epidural. No full anaesthetic this time so a much quicker and easier recovery. I could have chosen to be awake and hear all the sawing and hammering but was a bit too cowardly for that. All over by just after 10 a.m. and back to the ward by 12.00. No longer do we rest for days. Best practice is to get mobilized quickly and I took the first rather wobbly steps with a frame only 4 hours later.
Next morning the physio team started and I was onto crutches and taking short walks around the ward.
I was discharged after two and a half days and not 7. Better outcomes. Better patient recovery and mobilization. Much safer surgery. And dramatically less costly. And the nice thing so often forgotten is that it is the NHS surgeons and doctors who are leading these innovations.
We really have the best service in the world and this was verified recently by the USA Commonwealth Institute, which compares the best systems in developed countries. Our national challenge is how to protect it at a time when we cannot really afford the £100Bn national bill.