Foot service gets people home quickly

Dozens of Northumberland residents are getting back on their feet quicker thanks to a surgical and community care programme.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s consultant podiatric surgeons Keith Gibbard and Simon Fay treat conditions ranging from bunions and those developed through arthritis problems to skin grafts and bone fusions.

However, patients do not routinely need to go onto a ward following the procedure as operations are carried out under local anaesthetic – with patients walking out of the clinic following treatment.

The procedures are part of the trust’s podiatry service. People are referred by community podiatry teams and GPs, which provides joined up care for patients closer to home at their local hospital.

Mr Fay operates in Alnwick Infirmary and North Tyneside General Hospital. Mr Gibbard works from the Hexham and Wansbeck general hospitals.

Mr Gibbard said: “Using local anaesthetic means we can operate on relatively poorly people who are not well enough for a general anaesthetic, so they can still get the relief they need from painful conditions.

“Many patients also now choose the ‘awake experience’ of local anaesthetic as they feel more in control and recover more quickly in the immediate postoperative period.

“We keep the whole experience as simple and pleasant for patients as possible and try to create an environment which is friendly and relaxed.”

He added that he calls all his patients the day after surgery to check there are no complications. Patients are then seen once a week until the wound has healed, then again at six months to check that the procedure has been effective and they are happy with the result.