Hand and wrist surgery introduced at Minehead Community Hospital


Hand and wrist surgery introduced at Minehead Community Hospital

People in Minehead and West Somerset are now able to access many types of hand and wrist surgery at their local community hospital.

It follows the introduction of a nerve block technique, where a patient’s whole arm can be numbed before surgery, so they can be operated on under local anaesthetic without needing to travel to Musgrove Park or Yeovil hospitals.

Patients are assessed by their clinician to determine if they are suitable to have an operation at Minehead Hospital, as not all patients will meet the clinical criteria.

Mr Anthony Gough, one of our consultant hand surgeons who operates from Minehead Hospital, said: “This is a fantastic development for people in West Somerset, in terms of having better access to this type of surgery and the potential to reduce waiting times for surgery.

“Minehead Community Hospital is a fantastic environment for patients to have an operation, but although it has a fully functional theatre, it’s not possible to treat patients under a general anaesthetic.

“This nerve block technique, which is a local anaesthetic around a patient’s large peripheral nerves, can be used with the guidance of an ultrasound machine in their axilla to allow surgery to be performed while the patient is awake.”

The technique is traditionally used at Musgrove Park and Yeovil hospitals for hand and wrist operations, where the option of a general anaesthetic is available if required.

After careful consideration by our theatre, anaesthetic and safety teams, for those patients who meet certain pre-operative criteria, it has been possible to develop this service at Minehead Hospital without needing the safety net of a general anaesthetic.

“Most nerve block lists are performed while using sedation and have the option of giving a patient a general anaesthetic if the block doesn’t work,” Mr Gough continued. “But by deliberately not having these options and developing specific robust safety protocols, this type of theatre list is unique in the south west, and possibly the UK.

“By running this at Minehead Hospital, we are not only reducing the time that patients need to wait for their operation, but are lowering the risk of an operation being cancelled due to other higher priority emergency operations. It’s so much more convenient for people in this rural area of Somerset.

“The operating list is patient-focused, and only for those who don’t need an overnight stay following their operation, as Minehead Hospital does not offer overnight surgical care.

“We know having surgery can be an anxious time, so the team are trained to provide the help and support to patients through every step of their surgery. They explain what to expect and help them to relax in an unfamiliar, but welcoming and relaxed environment.”