Clinicians at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust have launched a weekly “surgery school” designed to prepare patients mentally and physically for procedures.
The idea is currently being piloted among colorectal and urology patients at Southampton General Hospital. The innovation sees groups of 10 patients attend a two-hour session with their clinical team to find out more about improving health and fitness.
“Many are reporting a continuation of better diets and lifestyles”
Topics covered include the benefits of exercise, nutrition, alcohol education and smoking cessation – all with the aim of reducing the risk of complications post-surgery and the length of hospital stay.
As part of the project, patients are given advice on what types of exercise to undertake and have access to smoking cessation services, as well as a dedicated alcohol support team.
Around 90 patients have attended the surgery school so far, with a feedback survey suggesting 93% were likely to recommend the programme to a friend or family member ahead of major surgery.
“Just handing patients a leaflet… just isn’t enough to get the message through”
Imogen Fecher-Jones, an advanced nurse practitioner and perioperative medicine project manager at the trust, said: “Feedback from patients has been extremely positive so far.
“Many are reporting a continuation of better diets and lifestyles long after their surgery, so we are seeing a much wider impact than just a method of reducing complications and improving recovery in the short-term,” she said.
Professor Mike Grocott, a consultant in critical care, said: “Patients who are in good physical shape prior to surgery have fewer complications and enjoy a quicker recovery after their operation.”
“Just handing patients a leaflet or making a passing comment about trying to take care of their health – which remains commonplace – just isn’t enough to get the message through,” he noted.
“Therefore, we have been piloting the surgery school as a formal part of patients’ pre-surgery preparations,” he added.