Theatre care team’s innovative work shortlisted for national award

Members of the PACU team pictured together in Torbay Hospital's Rose Garden.

Published: 21 July 2023

A team which cares for people having surgery at Torbay Hospital has been shortlisted for a national award for their innovative work.

The Post Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU) has been shortlisted for ‘acuity-based patient allocation’ in the Theatre and Surgical Nursing category of the Nursing Times Awards 2023.

PACU is a 14-bed unit that cares for everyone that goes through the inpatient theatre suite at Torbay Hospital. The unit frequently cares for over 50 people a day, with the team made up of nursing staff and operating department practitioners.

Every member of the team is a highly skilled, competent practitioner who provides exemplary care to people as they emerge from anaesthesia, which can often be a very vulnerable time.

The team have been nominated for the new ways of working they have developed following the pandemic. 85% of cases are now day surgeries, which means that the flow of people through the unit has increased exponentially. They have had to adapt to new ways of working without additional capacity or resource, which has seen the team take on a more flexible, considered approach.

Practitioners have had to adapt while prioritising and maintaining high standards of care and safety. They are competent and accountable, making important care decisions in a practitioner-led environment.

People also stay in the unit overnight in a range of cases, including day cases who are too poorly to go home yet, those needing high levels of care but not suitable for intensive care treatment and those awaiting a ward space.

Changes to ways of working has fostered a strong sense of team in the unit, with everyone pulling together to provide the best care possible. Anaesthesia colleagues have praised the team for the reduction of handover time, which makes more efficient use of theatre space.

Donna Salter, Senior Sister and PACU manager at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the entire team for being shortlisted for this award. We have had to really adapt to new ways of working with a strong sense of teamwork, commitment to quality and safety and pride in our work.

“It has been challenging at times but it is great to see our hard work recognised and achieve demonstrable benefits; both for performance and the people we care for. I look forward to presenting our work to the judging panel and we are really excited to hear the outcome in October.”

As part of the shortlist, the team will present to the judging panel in September before the awards ceremony is held in London on Wednesday 25 October 2023.