Significant progress in orthopaedic services

Date published: 12 January 2024

Significant progress has been made in many areas of orthopaedic services following a review commissioned by the Department of Health.

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In April 2022 the Department commissioned an independent external review of the regional orthopaedic service in NI, to identify proposals for the immediate recovery of the service.

The review, which was undertaken by the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) team from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH), detailed 21 recommendations designed to increase activity in the short term with the overall aim of further developing and maintaining a sustainable and efficient service. The Department accepted all recommendations in full, and work has been ongoing to ensure full and effective implementation.

The progress report published today notes significant progress across many areas within the orthopaedic service in a relatively short period of time, with 10 of the 21 recommendations marked as green (complete/on track).  In particular, the report highlights:

  • The successful recovery of services at Musgrave Park Hospital (MPH). More than 1,700 additional patients, over and above activity planned prior to the review, treated to date;
  • The newly refurbished Duke of Connaught Unit (DoC) at MPH, now delivering high volume, low complexity treatments for patients.  A combination of Orthopaedic Theatre Nurse Specialists (OTNS) and Consultant–led activity means that there are now an average of eight theatre sessions weekly taking place in the DoC, with further plans to increase this.  In total, over 1,700 procedures and 750 outpatient appointments have taken place in the unit thus far; 
  • The establishment of an Orthopaedic Surgery Recovery Board to oversee progress; 
  • New ways of working encouraged to increase capacity and ensure people can been seen and treated more quickly.

Permanent Secretary Peter May said: “It is heartening to see the significant progress made in several key areas of the orthopaedics service, against a backdrop of very challenging conditions for Health and Social Care. I commend the hard work and dedication of all the teams involved in implementing the recommendations and achieving these very welcome improvements.

“However, the report also notes that the pace of implementation has been slower in some areas than others.  This is to be expected given the different nature of various recommendations, and is reflective of the very difficult operating environment within which Trusts are working.  However, it will be essential going forward that there remains a strong and energetic focus from the Department and Trusts on progressing full implementation of all recommendations. 

“The Department is committed to continuing to drive this work forward to ensure that none of the momentum achieved to date is lost, and that services continue to improve for those patients who need them.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The progress report is available online.

2. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by e-mail   

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