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Patients reap the benefits of £5.5million operating theatres development at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary

25 March 2024

  • Making improvements
  • Royal Lancaster Infirmary
  • Delivering outstanding care and experience
  • Creating the best culture and conditions for colleagues

RLI operating theatre members of the surgical team UHMBT 2024 1.jpgPatients are having surgery in four brand new state-of-the-art operating theatres in Lancaster thanks to a major refurbishment programme by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT).

The new facilities at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) cost £5.5million and work started in 2019. After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the refurbishment work is now complete. There are now four main operating theatres in the hospital’s Centenary Building as well as a theatre that was built in 2020 to support the refurbishment works.

All of the theatres have been refurbished to the same exacting standards with the latest technology to ensure that patients receive the best possible care and treatment. The bright, modern theatres also provide a better working environment for more than 100 members of the surgical team.

The operating theatres development at the RLI complements work being done by UHMBT at Westmorland General Hospital (WGH) in Kendal on the development of a new Surgical Hub for elective (planned) surgery.

Daniel Bakey, Associate Director of Operations for the Surgery and Critical Care Group at UHMBT, said: “Our patients are now being seen in a bright, modern, and welcoming environment thanks to this huge refurbishment programme that has been expertly completed over several years by the Trust’s Capital Services Team.

RLI operating theatre Matt Walker and Ian Ferguson UHMBT 2024 1.jpg“The theatres now have that fresh and high-tech clinical environment that patients expect. We want our patients to feel calm as they walk in, and I think the new environment does support that. We also want our patients to feel reassured that they are getting the very best care from our highly skilled staff. The new environment is built for them to feel safe, and they can be reassured that they will go through their journey with the best possible equipment and the best possible staff, so they have a positive outcome and experience. Our excellent patient feedback suggests that we are providing that positive service.”

Claire Rawes, Matron for Surgery at the RLI, said: “We have had some fantastic feedback from patients about the care we are providing in our new theatres. They have told us they have a had a brilliant experience and that the care has been great throughout. Patients have also described our staff as friendly, informative, and efficient. Patients said they felt they could trust our staff and that they were very calm and caring. It is lovely to have such positive feedback about the service and care we’re providing in our new theatres.”

The new theatres are extremely flexible and can be used for all types of surgery, from complex and emergency surgery to more routine operations. The types of surgery that are being conducted in the new theatres include trauma, elective orthopaedic, ear, nose and throat (ENT), oral maxillofacial, general, colorectal, breast, dental, urology and paediatric surgery.

Daniel said: “We are continuing to provide extra lists at weekends when staffing allows to ensure patients are seen and treated as soon as possible. Our waiting lists are coming down which is reassuring for everyone. We are progressing well against national standards and have fulfilled the national requirement to have no patients waiting for more than 65 days for treatment from April 1, 2024.

“It is testament to the hard work of staff across multiple areas in the Trust that we now have these fantastic new facilities. I would like to thank our Capital Services Team who have done a brilliant job on this challenging project.”

Miss Jane McNicholas Chief Medical Officer UHMBT 2022.jpgIan Ferguson was the Project Lead for the Capital Services Team, and he was supported by Matt Walker, Lee Presho and Paul Kershaw, who has since retired from the Trust.

Miss Jane McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer, UHMBT, said: “I am excited to see the benefits of these new facilities for both the experience of our patients and the staff who work in them.

“The new theatres have innovative design features such as an ultraclean ventilation canopy for infection control. As well as enabling us to provide fantastic operating facilities for patients, the new facilities also provide an improved working environment for our theatre teams.

“The development ensures we have theatre accommodation that is fit for purpose now and in the future. This will undoubtedly result in improved patient experience and greater efficiency. This refurbishment at the RLI demonstrates our commitment to provide the best possible experience of care and quality of service for our patients and local communities.”

The operating theatres cost £5.5million which came from UHMBT's Capital Programme.