09 July 2012
An audit of UK laparoscopic – or keyhole surgery - operating theatres has revealed that while 49 per cent of operating theatres meet sufficient equipment standards, only 15 per cent of theatres meet the highest levels of equipment safety and design. The Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ALSGBI)₁ found that 85 per cent of hospitals do not yet have ‘fully integrated’ theatres which could make surgery more efficient and safer for patients.
More than one in five hospitals (22 per cent) do not have high-definition imaging screens readily available. Despite HD being the norm for domestic televisions, some hospitals are still using obsolete imaging screens for complex operations. The surgical view on the screen is less clear and the colour resolution is impaired, making the surgeon’s job more difficult.
The use of laparoscopic surgery is increasing. It is used for many gastrointestinal and abdominal operations, bringing patients the benefits of smaller scars, less pain, reduced blood loss and faster recovery. For example over 90 per cent of all gall bladder removals and over 30 per cent of bowel cancer operations in the UK are now undertaken laparoscopically.
Laparoscopic technology is advancing rapidly. However there is a fear, borne out by the audit, that theatres are lagging behind by not being equipped with the technology to enable more efficient operating standards. With the NHS under pressure to save £20bn by 2015, the ALSGBI is concerned that necessary investment in pioneering surgical techniques and technology is in danger of being overlooked.
Professor Timothy Rockall, President of the ALSGBI, said:
“It is worrying that surgeons are still having to use equipment which may limit the operations they can perform safely. You can’t buy a non-HD television on the high street even if you wanted to and yet in our hospitals we see old and poor quality television screens being used for complex operations. We hope the result of this audit encourages surgeons and management to discuss upgrading their equipment to improve standards and to reassure patients that the best service is being provided.”
The National Audit of Theatre Equipment 2012 surveyed 206 hospitals across Great Britain and Ireland and graded respondents “Bronze”, “Silver” or “Gold”. The audit asked hospitals to outline the age, standard and type of equipment and how their equipment was powered and maintained. It found that:
- 49 per cent of hospitals scored Gold, 33 per cent scored Silver and 13 per cent scored Bronze
- 17 per cent of hospitals did not have a programme in place for the upgrade, replacement or maintenance of laparoscopic equipment
- 9 per cent of hospitals were not using modern energy sources for their equipment e.g. Ultrasound dissection
The full report including data from individual hospitals is available from www.alsgbi.org
Notes to Editor:
1. The Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland aim to foster developments in laparoscopic surgery, to provide a structure for training, to promote educational and academic objectives and to act as a liaison under the umbrella of the Association of Surgeons with the surgical Royal Colleges, the Specialist Advisory Committee and other surgical academic bodies. The audit
2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808. For more information please visit www.rcseng.ac.uk.
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