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New Pre Operative Assessment Unit opens at Furness General Hospital

A new specialist unit at Furness General Hospital (FGH) is enhancing the pre-operative care of patients from Barrow and surrounding areas.

The Pre-Op Unit, on Level 6 of FGH, is providing a greatly improved experience for patients who are scheduled to have pre-planned operations. It has nine members of staff and most of the preparation that patients need for operations can be done on the day.

Pre-Operative Assessment (POA) is an assessment of a patient’s fitness for a general anaesthesia and elective (planned) surgery.

Nicola Swindlehurst, Pre-Operative Assessment Cross-Bay Manager for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “We are very pleased with our new PreOp Assessment Unit in Barrow.

“Up until recently we have had two separate addresses in the hospital, so now that we have everything in one place the experience of patients is greatly enhanced.

“The new development has brought the Barrow service in line with our other two main hospital sites. Nearly all of the specialist pre-op tests such as blood tests, swabs and ECGs (electrocardiogram tests) can now be done on one site.

“We do get patients who have never been to hospital before so the Pre-Op Unit is very important in explaining things to people and providing reassurance.”

Nicola first started working as a pre-operative nurse in 2009 and for the last five years she has been managing the Pre-Op team. There are 29 team members including Nicola across the three main Trust sites.

Nicola said: “We have a really knowledgeable team; a team that goes that extra step to provide patients with the best possible service that we can.

“We are linked to almost every hospital team as well as GPs and physiotherapists. We have to look to see if a patient is fit enough to have an operation from an anaesthesia point of view, from a social point of view, whilst ensuring their co-morbidities are stable or optimised to make them safe to proceed.

“We explain the reality of what the surgery will involve and the implications to patients and their families.

“If we discover any other conditions when a patient is having pre-op tests, we will refer them back to their GP or consultant unless they are on an urgent ‘pathway’ for cancer or a similar disease.

“We are supported by anaesthetists and have a dedicated team of anaesthetists who also work in Pre-Op who help to make sure that people are in the right place for their surgery.

“We are a lynchpin in terms of ensuring a smooth and safe journey to surgery. When a patient comes to see us basically they are given a ‘mini MOT’. We go through everything to ensure that a person is ready for surgery.”

Not everyone needs to attend for a formal assessment but Pre-Op will have been involved in triaging patient information to make sure that those who do need to attend receive an appointment and those who don’t, get passed through to the waiting list to get dates for surgery in order of their waiting times.

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