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West Suffolk Hospital's Martin Corke Day Surgery Clinic celebrates 25th anniversary




Staff at West Suffolk Hospital’s day surgery unit have reflected on its impact as the facility celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The Martin Corke Day Surgery Clinic, which is at the back of the Bury St Edmunds hospital, opened in April 1994 and has grown from an initial two operating theatres to six.

The majority of patients are operated on and discharged within a day, reducing pressure on waiting lists for the main theatres and freeing up hospital beds.

The day surgery team celebrates 25 years at West Suffolk Hospital.
The day surgery team celebrates 25 years at West Suffolk Hospital.

Among the longest-serving members of staff is theatre senior staff nurse Sally McDermott, who was the scrub nurse for the unit’s first operation and remembers how the team ‘really hit the ground running’ the day it launched.

She said: “When we first opened we were quite limited with the procedures we were able to do – one of the biggest procedures we could do was hernia repair but now we do tonsil removal, arthroscopic shoulder surgery, laparoscopic gall bladder removal, and other operations as routine day cases that used to be seen only in main theatres.

“For example, our orthopaedic trauma lists have only been introduced in the last couple of years.”

Dr Nigel Penfold, consultant anaesthetist, and Sally McDermott, theatre senior staff nurse, both worked on the first operation in the day surgery unit 25 years ago.
Dr Nigel Penfold, consultant anaesthetist, and Sally McDermott, theatre senior staff nurse, both worked on the first operation in the day surgery unit 25 years ago.

The first day case patient at the £1.9 million unit was Kay Pymer, who received a special scroll from Dr Nigel Penfold to mark her admission for operations to a wrist and toe.

Dr Penfold, consultant anaesthetist, was the first day surgery unit clinical director and the medical lead for the development and design of the unit.

He said: “The first operating list in our newly-opened day surgery unit was orthopaedic, and I was the anaesthetist.

“In my opinion the success of the DSU was due to two years of thorough planning by a great team, primarily led by Trish Harris and Margo Harrison, who developed staff training and the protocols, many of which are still in use today.”

Of the six operating theatres, four are specifically for the unit and two for the eye treatment centre, which opened in 2002.

More than 66,580 operations have been completed at the unit in the last 10 years, with 6,514 undertaken last year. The year before the day surgery opened, West Suffolk Hospital treated about 4,000 day case patients.

The West Suffolk Hospital day surgery unit being built.
The West Suffolk Hospital day surgery unit being built.

The unit is named after cricketer Martin Corke, who was chairman of the West Suffolk Health Authority and dedicated much of his life to the NHS in West Suffolk.

Jennifer Clay, day surgery theatres clinical team manager, added: “Our day surgery unit is a great team, and we are so lucky to have staff who have worked so hard for so many years to make our unit the success that it is.

“We pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our patients.

“It’s onwards and upwards for our unit, and here’s to the next 25 years of developments and quality care for our community.”



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