Continuity of care improvements for theatre patients made at Friarage

Theatre staff Sarah Baker, Carol Jowers, Julie Clark, Rachel Smith and Michelle Grant in the recovery room at the Friarage.

Patients undergoing surgery at the Friarage Hospital can now benefit from having the same nurse or operating department practitioner supporting them throughout their procedure.

This means patients are with a familiar member of staff from the moment they go to sleep in the anaesthetic room to the moment they open their eyes in the recovery room.

Usually an operating department has one anaesthetic nurse in each theatre plus another group of nurses waiting for patients to arrive in the recovery room.

Now the Friarage – when staffing levels allow – has two nurses in each theatre who stay with each patient from start to finish.

This new way of working, developed by theatre manager Sarah Baker, is not only improving the way patients are cared for, but it is also making better use of staff working hours, as there is no time lost waiting to handover patients.

This continuity of care also helps to reduce the risk of errors and has cut turnaround times so more patients can be operated on each day.

“It was a big culture change but our nurses, operating department practitioners, surgeons and anaesthetists have really embraced it,” said Sarah.

“I feel really proud of the staff, the department and how smoothly it runs.

“I see how well it works and how much more effective it is. More than anything, it makes the department seem very calm.

“Ultimately it’s about the continuation of care for patients, improved patient experience and, because of the reduction in handovers, improved patient safety.”

She said the new way of working has been welcomed by patients with one saying: “I was reassured that the same person would be there when I woke up”.

Another said: “I felt that the nurse knew me and understood how anxious I was.”