The NHS at 70 – with patient choice at its heart

This week sees the 70th anniversary of the NHS, and one of country’s first ever treatment centres will be joining in the celebrations after carrying out more than 50,000 procedures.

Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre, which opened in 2005, was one of the first in the country to offer NHS patients specialist, elective secondary care – such as hip and knee replacements and diagnostic imaging – in a dedicated centre.

Since it opened it has carried out more than 50,000 procedures, meaning people across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire have been able to return to their work or activities, free from the pain of worn joints and back and neck problems.

Hospital director Steve Booker, who was born and bred in Chesterfield, was managing finances at the centre on the day it opened. He said: “When treatment centres were announced they were an innovation that pushed care forwards. Many of our team are from the area. We are all very proud of what the NHS has achieved for local people and the part we have played in delivering it.

“We have done so much innovative work, including reducing the time people need to spend in hospital after surgery, through our enhanced recovery patient pathway. Back in 2005 when we opened, the average length of stay for patients undergoing hip and knee replacement was five days, compared to the typical NHS patient stay of seven to ten days.  

“Our length of stay has now reduced to an average of 2.5 days for both procedures, and we have recently introduced hip replacements as a day case procedure for some suitable patients.

“We have created an ophthalmology service –  reducing the waiting times for people to have cataract surgery –  and our investment in an exceptional new theatre and state-of the-art diagnostic equipment means that our waiting lists are remarkably short while our patient safety is exceptionally high.”

Looking at the 70 years of the NHS, Steve said: “The birth of the NHS represented a revolution in the availability, choice and delivery of healthcare to all. But what is not quite so well-known is a patient’s right, under the NHS Constitution, to choose where they receive treatment, and their right to move waiting lists if they have been told they must wait for longer than 18 weeks.”

In 2008 the scope for patients to choose where they received their care was expanded to include the right to choose to have treatment in any facility which offers NHS care.

And, if a patient has been told they must wait for longer than 18 weeks for treatment, they can also ask to be moved to a shorter waiting list.

Steve said: “There is capacity within the system for patients to switch waiting lists, and we are seeing a greater number of patients who have decided to leave a longer list and come to us for their NHS treatment.

“As the NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary, it is reassuring to know that patient choice remains central to its philosophy and delivery. Choice is not only good for us as patients, but it also benefits the NHS itself, as choice helps us to make the very best use of the resources the NHS has available.”

To find more out about Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre visit or call 0333 200 5276.