Skip to content

News Centre

Newsroom

Innovative day surgery unit celebrates 25 year anniversary

Twenty-five years ago the day surgery unit opened at West Suffolk Hospital – and some staff are still working in the department a quarter of a century later!

The day surgery unit (DSU) is a stand-alone facility designed specifically for patients who do not need to stay in hospital overnight but who need a surgical procedure with either a general or local anaesthetic. The majority of patients are operated on and discharged home within a day – reducing pressure on the main theatres waiting lists and freeing up hospital beds.

When the day surgery unit opened in April 1994, the concept of operating on patients and sending them home within a day was quite new. When the unit opened it only hosted two operating theatres – it now has six; four for the day surgery unit specifically, and two for the eye treatment centre which was opened alongside day surgery in 2002. In the last 10 years more than 66,580 operations have been completed in the day surgery unit, and in 2018 alone 6,514 patients were operated on.

The West Suffolk Hospital day surgery unit being built

The West Suffolk Hospital day surgery unit being built

Sally McDermott, theatre senior staff nurse at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT), is one of the longest serving members of staff on the unit, and was the ‘scrub nurse’ for the first ever operation in West Suffolk’s day surgery unit.

She said: “We really hit the ground running the day we opened the day surgery unit – it was brilliant. I think we’ve been quite ‘cutting edge’ in day surgery, if you don’t mind the pun! When we first opened we were quite limited with the procedures we were able to do – one of the biggest procedures we could do was hernia repair but now we do tonsil removal, arthroscopic shoulder surgery, laparoscopic gall bladder removal, and other operations as routine day cases that used to be seen only in main theatres.

“For example, our orthopaedic trauma lists have only been introduced in the last couple of years. Better pain relief, improved recovery from anaesthetics, and bleeding control has improved so much over the last 25 years, which has allowed us to push the boundaries and revolutionise what we do.”

Dr Nigel Penfold, consultant anaesthetist at WSFT, was the first day surgery unit clinical director and the medical lead for the development and design of the new unit, working alongside the original architects. He joined the NHS at West Suffolk Hospital in 1980 as a house physician, and on his return was appointed the role of consultant anaesthetist in 1990.

He said: “The first operating list in our newly-opened day surgery unit was orthopaedic, and I was the anaesthetist. In my opinion the success of the DSU was due to two years of thorough planning by a great team, primarily led by Trish Harris and Margo Harrison, who developed staff training and the protocols, many of which are still in use today.”

Dr Nigel Penfold, consultant anaesthetist, and Sally McDermott, theatre senior staff nurse

Dr Nigel Penfold, consultant anaesthetist, and Sally McDermott, theatre senior staff nurse, both worked on the first operation in the day surgery unit 25 years ago 

The day surgery unit manages all aspects of a day surgery patient’s care, and is almost self-sufficient from the main hospital. Therefore, many departments work alongside each other to make up the unit – from the day surgery theatres, day surgery ward, and the recovery unit.

Both children and adult patients are catered for, with the youngest day surgery patient last year just one year old, and the oldest patient 101 years old. Patients are treated under a range of medical specialities, including: dermatology, ear, nose and throat, general surgery, gynaecology, oral surgery, orthopaedics (such as wrist fractures), plastic surgery, urology and vascular.

In 2018, 99.1% of patients* said they would recommend the day surgery unit service to friends and family. Also, 99.7% of patients felt that the staff were professional, approachable and friendly, and that they were given enough privacy when being examined and treated. Overall, 99.3% of patients rated the department’s care as excellent.

Jennifer Clay, day surgery theatres clinical team manager at WSFT, added: “Our day surgery unit is a great team, and we are so lucky to have staff who have worked so hard for so many years to make our unit the success that it is. We pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our patients, and enjoy the satisfaction of sending someone home to their own environment to recover, with the appropriate pain relief, advice and support so they can manage their recovery effectively. It’s onwards and upwards for our unit, and here’s to the next 25 years of developments and quality care for our community.”

The day surgery team celebrates 25 years at West Suffolk Hospital

The day surgery team celebrates 25 years at West Suffolk Hospital

Back to Newsroom

The day surgery unit official opening featured in the EADT Tuesday, 19 April 1994

The day surgery unit official opening featured in the EADT Tuesday, 19 April 1994