Health Minister opens new orthopaedics unit

Date published: 17 October 2022

Health Minister Robin Swann has opened a new day-case unit which will provide much needed additional capacity for orthopaedic services in Northern Ireland. 

Health Minister Robin Swann pictured opening the Duke of Connaught Unit
Health Minister Robin Swann pictured opening the Duke of Connaught Unit with Belfast Trust’s Chair of Division for Trauma, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Mr Gavan McAlinden; Chief Executive Dr Cathy Jack and Board Non- Executive Director Martin Bradley.

The new Duke of Connaught Unit, located within Belfast Trust’s Musgrave Park Hospital, will provide a new streamlined day case pathway for the treatment of orthopaedic patients. This will free up capacity for the treatment of more complex cases requiring major orthopaedic surgery at the main Musgrave Park Hospital theatre.

Minister Swann said: “I am very pleased to officially open the new Duke of Connaught Unit, the refurbishment of which was a key action within my Department’s Elective Care Framework.

“The Unit has already treated over 300 patients since it first opened its doors and will continue to play an important role in reducing waiting lists and improving outcomes for patients.”

The Minister continued: “There is no doubt that tackling our waiting lists and stabilising our health and social care services is hugely challenging but we owe it to patients and to our health and social care staff to push ahead. I am acutely aware that our waiting lists are not just numbers. Behind the figures are individuals, often suffering in pain and great discomfort and as Health Minister I will continue to do everything in my power to reduce the time people are spending on our waiting lists.”

Refurbishment of Duke of Connaught Unit cost £800,000 and the Department of Health will invest £500,000 per year to support the unit’s services.

Heather Jackson, Interim Director Trauma Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said: “As the rebuild of elective Orthopaedic surgery services continues, following the devastating effects of the COVID Pandemic, the Duke of Connaught Unit is a valuable new asset in the plan to reduce the existing backlog of orthopaedic surgical patients. Refurbishing the unit cost £800,000 and was only possible with excellent collaborative working between Belfast Trust estates and orthopaedics departments supported by the Department of Health. We very much look forward to seeing the work of this unit make a valuable difference to our patients.”

Health Minister Robin Swann pictured opening the Duke of Connaught Unit
Minister Swann viewing the new theatre with the Duke of Connaught Unit alongside (L-R) Belfast Trust’s Board Non- Executive Director Martin Bradley; Chief Executive Dr Cathy Jack; Interim Director for Trauma Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Heather Jackson

Before the official opening, Minister Swann met with staff and was given a tour of the unit, which has one surgical theatre, suitable for general and regional anaesthetic day-cases.

The new unit also has two procedure rooms, which can be used for diagnostic and therapeutic image-guided injections and WALANT (Wide Awake, Local Anaesthetic, No Tourniquet) cases.  This allows patients to be treated in a walk-in, walk-out fashion, without needing overnight hospital beds.

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