ALL under one roof – that’s probably the biggest benefit for the surgical teams working at the extended Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.
Previously, consultant surgeon Stuart Oglesby had to split his time between three sites – Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy’s Forth Park Maternity Hospital and the Vic.
Now, though, the state-of-the-art facilities in the Vic make the lives of Stuart and his colleagues, and those of their patients, that much easier.
From arriving at the hospital by ambulance following a referral by a GP, through to recovery in a ward, the ‘surgical journey’ has been planned to be as smooth and efficient as possible.
Stuart (pictured) explained: “Even something as simple as a blood test could be problematic in the past. The lab is on the Vic site, and always has been, so from Queen Margaret we had to send specimens across then wait for the van for four hours. The turn around time was five hours, or we had to send a taxi with all the related costs.
“Now our acute patients come in here and the lab is just there. So our blood test turn around is 10 minutes.”
That’s just one example of the changes which can make such a difference to the treatment of patients.
On arrival via a dedicated entrance, patients are first met by a nurse who will admit them, and they are then seen by a junior doctor or a nursing specialist who will assess them, give them any necessary pain relief and carry out any relevant blood tests or investigations.
If a patient’s condition is causing concern, a consultant will be called immediately. And because consultants like Stuart are now based at the Vic, they are available to react straight away instead of in the past perhaps being at another hospital.
In any event, consultants will ratify the decisions of the junior doctors and nurses during ward rounds.
Spacious side rooms allow for examinations to be carried out ahead of surgery, and all the scanning and imaging requirements are right on hand.
Stuart said: “The geography – the way everything is set out – is a real improvement.
“Directly opposite admissions we can get all the imaging. CT scans and ultrasounds can meet 90 per cent of our imaging needs and it can all be done in a matter of minutes.
“Radiologists interpret the images in the next room. I can’t interpret a CT scan. I can ask for a CT scan and the pictures will be taken and then these guys will study it.
“It’s great to be able to speak to these guys and discuss cases with them, all in just a few minutes.
“Having everything together saves so much time. Casualty is through there, medical admissions and then surgical admissions, and the imaging for the acute specialities is there to support all three.”
From there, it’s up to the high-tech first floor, with 10 operating theatres (including one reserved for emergencies), intensive care, and high dependency and endoscopy units.
The state-of-the-art theatres include specially designed areas to allow air to flow up the way, so no dust comes down on the patient, reducing the risk of infection.
Another innovation is the endoscopy sterilisation unit.
When a scope is used, it goes to the finished area. All the dirty scopes go through a washing machine and come out in a separate clean room, avoiding any risk of mixing clean and dirty scopes, eliminating the possibility of any mix up due to human error.
It’s just another example of careful planning which ensures the best outcomes for the many patients who make the ‘surgical journey’ at the Vic every day.
And for Stuart, that’s what his job is all about.