Open for business – Torbay Hospital’s Day Surgery Unit reopens 1 September

Staff at the Day Surgery Unit

Published: 1 September 2020

Earlier this year Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, which provides acute and community health and care services, had to radically change how it provided services because of the COVID-19 pandemic. People needing urgent care continued to be able to access it safely throughout, however non-urgent services had to be stopped.

The Trust has now restored many of its services and is working very hard to step-up the others. In order to see as many patients as possible safely, a number of changes have taken place including online and telephone appointments where appropriate, mindful that there are many people waiting to receive treatments and procedures which have been unavoidably delayed by the pandemic.

The reopening of the Day Surgery Unit on 1 September will therefore be good news for the many patients waiting to undergo a day procedure. Having been used as an Initial Receiving and Treatment Unit for COVID-19 patients and then as a Medical Receiving Unit for urgent patients (2), from 1 September the Day Surgery Unit will again be used to perform surgery for a host of specialties (3), with around 80% of these under general anaesthetic. It is expected to be operating at full capacity in October.

Mr Ian Currie, Acting Medical Director, says: “We are now safely re-introducing more non-urgent hospital services, such as cardiac investigations and some laparoscopic (‘keyhole’) surgery. We are urgently prioritising those most in need on our hospital waiting lists – the sickest and those waiting the longest. The reopening of the Day Surgery Unit is a very welcome milestone on our service recovery plans, as we perform surgery on over 9,000 patients a year there. The waiting lists are long and we have a lot of catching up to do, but we are methodically contacting all patients and will work tirelessly to perform all needed surgery safely and as quickly as we can.”

The Trust is keen to remind the public that when visiting any of their hospitals or clinical sites, they must please observe 2m physical distancing, use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving, wear a face covering (unless aged under 11 or have a breathing difficulty, severe anxiety or where it would be very painful) and where possible, avoid visiting any of their sites unless you are a carer or a parent accompanying a child (4).

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, Autumn/Winter is approaching, so the Trust is continuing to be scrupulous in its precautionary measures to prevent spread of the virus. This means continuing some practices recently taken-up in order to maintain service levels, where this has been possible. Mr Ian Currie: “We will see fewer people face-to-face, and use phone and video more for outpatient follow-up appointments, routine screenings and diagnostics. We are also using video to help people with self-care, before and after surgery and if they have long-term conditions.”

The Trust urges the public to seek medical help when needed (5). Come to the Emergency Department (A&E) only in a medical emergency – where life is at risk or where long-term health would be severely compromised without immediate treatment. Otherwise, when you need urgent care but your condition is not life threatening:

  • Call your GP surgery or
  • Out of hours, call NHS 111 or visit NHS 111 online
  • Visit our Minor Injuries Unit at Newton Abbot Hospital (6)

Notes to editors:

  1. The Summer issue of Healthy Futures is a COVID-19 special issue featuring how the Trust adapted to dealing with COVID-19.
  2. The DSU unit became the Medical Receiving Unit in July taking medically expected emergency patients. This has now moved up to Forrest Ward.
  3. The DSU undertakes surgery for:
    • Gynaecology
    • General Surgery
    • Urology
    • Ophthalmology
    • Maxillo-facial and Oral Surgery
    • Orthopaedic Surgery
    • ENT
    • Plastic Surgery
    • Breast Care
    • Colorectal
    • Dermatology
    • Chronic pain work
    • Paediatric exodontia lists
    • Special needs adult restorative dental work
    • Dental sedation work
  4. Please refer to our visiting policy on our website.
  5. The NHS website details how to choose the right urgent and emergency care.
  6. Totnes and Dawlish Community Hospitals remain temporarily stood down as Minor Injuries Units, as we have been unable to maintain staffing levels during the pandemic.