The NHS in Devon has reduced the waiting list for spinal surgery by nearly 80 per cent after revolutionising its approach to caring for patients.

From May 2023 to the end of this January, the number of patients awaiting spinal surgery for 78 weeks or more dropped from 131 to 31, marking a 79 per cent decrease.

This significant achievement was made possible by the collaborative work of local NHS organisations.

Including the NHS England South West regional colleagues, the NHS England Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) team headed by Professor Tim Briggs, and the Peninsula Spinal Operational Delivery Network (ODN).

Together, they implemented the One Devon Elective Pilot programme to improve the efficiency of spinal surgical services throughout Devon.

Mr Henry Budd, consultant spinal surgeon at the Royal Devon University Healthcare Trust, said: "The One Devon Elective Pilot has addressed the challenges causing long waits for patients by adding surgical resource, supporting clinical and management collaboration and establishing a single point of access system across the region, ensuring equity of access to services and streamlined decision making."

Exmouth Journal: This significant achievement was made possible by the collaborative work of local NHS organisations

NHS England played a crucial role in driving a significant shift in the mode of operation of surgical teams across the NHS in Devon.

With this change, more work is being performed within clinic and theatre times, surgeons can operate across several hospital sites, and services are maximised across all the theatres in Devon.

This major transformation in the spinal care sector has been commended.

Dr Nigel Acheson, chief medical officer for NHS Devon, shared his pride in the success: "The progress the teams have made for spinal patients in Devon is incredible.

"I am so proud of how everyone has worked together to do the best for our patients."

The GIRFT review, undertaken in March 2023, recommended further improvements for spinal services in Devon.

As a result, two additional surgeons were employed, outpatient clinics and operating theatre lists were optimised, and a more streamlined patient access system was established.

Reflecting on his experience with the new surgical service system at the Exeter Nightingale Hospital, Mr Greengrass, the first spinal patient to be operated on at the hospital, praised the setup and staff, remarking: "I was in at 7.30am and home by 2pm.

"The hospital is well set up, very efficient and the staff were all lovely."