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New hospital unit set to cut waiting lists

Surgeons operating in the new unit this week
Surgeons operating in the new unit this week

HOSPITAL waiting lists are expected to be shortened with the opening of a new orthopaedic unit at Maidstone Hospital.

The new £2 million unit, which opened its doors to its first patients on Monday, specialises in operations such as knee, hip and shoulder replacements. The unit can take 40 patients a week.

Two rooms each house 12 state-of-the-art £1,000 self-adjustable beds. The operating theatre also boasts modern technology, using an air filtering device called a laminar flow to reduce the risk of infection. It sucks air from the operating theatre, filters it and blows it back into the room directly above the patient.

Five surgeons, each with two assistants, use the new operating theatre. Consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Simon Ellis, said: "For any orthopaedic surgeon, infection is a major worry. We screen everybody before they come in. We have the best facilities available now to reduce the risk of infection."

The new unit had been designed to reduce the rate of infection in orthopaedic surgery to less than one in 200, he said. Building on the unit started in May on a different site and the buildings were craned in by lorries.

Twelve nursing and clerical staff work at the unit. Elaine Williams, senior nurse for trauma and orthopaedics, said: "The staff are quite excited."

Maureen Blunden, business manager for trauma and orthopaedics, said: "The surgeons love it because it gives them their own self-contained unit. We can treat more patients which should hopefully help with our waiting list times."

The first patient at the new unit was 77-year-old Arthur Taylor, of Grigg Lane, Headcorn, who had been placed on the list in September for an operation on his contracted finger.

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