A NEW, dedicated ophthalmic theatre suite has opened at Musgrove Park Hospital.
The state-of-the-art suite is the first part in the development of a new eye care unit at the hospital, with a second theatre expected to be in operation at the suite in the autumn.
It means eye surgery will be able to continue even when the hospital is at its busiest – which previously could have led to the postponement of planned surgery.
The development is one part of Musgrove 2030 – an ambitious programme to transform the hospital’s facilities and ensure people are cared for in the right place to meet their health needs.
The suite was constructed entirely off site as a modular build, complete with all the equipment inside, and was lifted into place with limited disruption to the hospital site.
It has dedicated changing rooms and private waiting area, as well as rooms for anaesthetists and surgeons to speak confidentially to, and examine, patients before their operation.
Direct access from car park
Patients are also able to access the unit direct from the car park without needing to walk through the main hospital building.
This new suite is in addition to the new outpatient macular and glaucoma hub at Chard Hospital.
Mr Ed Herbert, a consultant ophthalmologist at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our eye unit is the busiest department at Musgrove Park Hospital, carrying out over 3,000 operations every year and providing nearly 50,000 outpatient appointments.
“Historically there has always been a greater demand for surgery than we can meet, leading to long waiting times.
“With social distancing requirements in place over the last 18 months, as well as reduced theatre availability, our ophthalmology patients have inevitably needed to wait longer than we’d wish for a procedure.”
Reduced waiting times
Matthew Bryant, chief operating officer at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (hospital services), said: “The new ophthalmic theatre suite is a very important part of our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a permanent dedicated day surgery theatre for eye surgery in Taunton and we are pleased to be able to offer patients a more positive experience in a better environment.
“The additional capacity created by the new ophthalmic theatre suite, along with the hub for macular and glaucoma care introduced this year at Chard Hospital, will also help to reduce waiting times.”