New centre will tackle backlog of patients waiting for ops  

How the new centre will look

Plans have been approved for a new £49.9m Elective Centre at Southmead Hospital which will provide capacity for an additional 6,500 operations a year to be carried out.

The centre will tackle the backlog of patients across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and is planned to open in spring 2025.

It will provide additional capacity for North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) to support each trust’s elective (planned care) recovery plans.

The facility will feature four surgical theatres and 40 beds for patients to recover, as well as 12 medirooms (where patients prepare for, and recover from, surgery) and X-ray facilities, and will mainly be used for orthopaedic procedures. The additional capacity will also enable more patients to be seen in existing theatres sooner for a range of other specialties.

The centre will bring together the skills and expertise of staff under one roof, reducing waiting times for some of the most common procedures such as hip and knee replacements.

As the centre will be separated from emergency services, surgical beds will be kept free for patients waiting for planned operations, reducing the risk of short-notice cancellations.

The plans have received approval from the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England.

However, when the hopes of opening an elective centre were shared just over a year ago with South Gloucestershire Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, North Bristol NHS Trust admitted that finding staff to run it could prove a “challenge”.

They said that around 300 full-time staff would be needed to support the centre which would involve a substantial international recruitment campaign.

This week we asked the trust for an update on its recruitment plans now that the centre has been given the go-ahead. A spokesperson told us: “We have a workforce strategy for the new Elective Centre, and will soon start to action this, now the centre has received the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care approvals.”