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Health / Nearly 180 patients seen in mobile operating theatre so far

Photo: NHS Shetland

AROUND 180 patients have so far had procedures carried out in the mobile operating theatre based outside the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick.

Most of these procedures have been cataract surgeries, but around 50 have been orthopaedic.

The mobile operating theatre opened its doors in January as NHS Shetland sought to reduce a Covid induced backlog by providing treatment locally.

This includes operations like joint replacements being carried out in Shetland for the first time.

Not only are patients from Shetland benefiting, but some in Orkney are also making use of the facilities.

One those is Willie Flett from Kirkwall, who recently spoke to BBC Radio Orkney about his experience of having had a knee replacement.

Those Orkney are usually used to travelling south for treatment but taking a trip to Sumburgh was a novel experience.

He was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at around the start of the Covid pandemic and struggled to walk.

Flett said he was whisked up to Shetland at the start of February for the knee procedure which he said went well.

“The staff up there were absolutely marvellous,” he said.

Flett said being in the mobile theatre just felt like being in the hospital building.

Chairman Gary Robinson said at a meeting of the NHS Shetland board on Tuesday that it was a “ringing endorsement” for the theatre, which has been funded by the Scottish Government.

The meeting also heard about the significant work staff in Shetland are doing to help the visiting workforce.

Director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan said: “It just shows how well a northern alliance can work.”

She added that the health board hopes to see 350 patients in the mobile theatre by the time the programme concludes at the end of March.

However, it will remain outside the hospital until the autumn to support a project to refurbish the Gilbert Bain’s ambulatory care unit.

Once completed in October, that project will double the hospital’s day surgery capacity.