On Monday 14th June, a surgical hub located in Southwest London welcomed its first patients, just four months after construction began on the facility.

Now, three months on from the facility’s doors opening to patients, the House of Commons’ Health Committee has this morning heard from the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCSE) during an evidence session as part of its inquiry into addressing the record long NHS waiting lists, on how such surgical hubs are helping to deal with the backlog.

Vanguard Healthcare Solutions has consistently made the case that the establishment and proliferation of surgical hubs would be crucial to easing the current NHS backlog by increasing capacity and reducing pressure on existing hospitals.  Indeed, the UK’s leading think-tank Policy Exchange, recently confirmed the importance of surgical hubs in tackling waiting lists for clinical specialisms in their report ‘A Wait on Your Mind?’ published in July 2021. The report includes a range of policy recommendations to the NHS and Government, including an expansion of surgical hubs to ‘provide benefits for addressing the backlog.’

At today’s oral evidence session, the Health and Social Care Committee heard from patients impacted by the backlog caused by the pandemic, noting that the current waiting lists stand at 5.5 million, increasing from 4.4 million pre-pandemic. Importantly, it was emphasised that the impacts of waiting lists have not been felt equally across the country, with those in deprived areas hit worst by COVID-19.

Professor Mortensen of the Royal College of Surgeons told the Committee that surgical hubs will be important in addressing the backlog; whilst Anita Charlesworth, the Director of Research and REAL Centre at the Health Foundation, told the Committee that delivering community facilities like these will help localise the management of care to better address the backlog, rather than taking a nationwide approach which will inevitably lead to mixed results as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Fundamentally, the Committee heard that hubs are a pragmatic and tailored solution to tackling backlogs across England, as the care provided can be tailored in each hub to the needs of a particular area and its residents.

Vanguard’s recent delivery of a surgical hub in South West London provides an exemplar of how an innovative and contemporary approach using modern methods of construction for modular facilities has transformed the industry, delivering sites in just 4 months, rather than the 12+ months predicted for a traditional build of a similar size, helping to drastically speed up the deliver of essential elective procedures. In order to support the communities hit hardest by increasing waiting lists and tackle regional health inequality, the speed at which these facilities can be delivered will be critical.

Central to the design and establishment of Vanguard’s modular hubs is the delivery of positive patient outcomes which are uncompromisable throughout every stage of the development.  Throughout this cost-effective and flexible process, Vanguard’s solutions deliver an adaptable, future-proofed hub, fit for a variety of purposes, and lasting over 60 years.

For the surgical hub in South West London, Vanguard took on the complete build of the project, providing enabling work that included electrical, medical gas, water, and drainage infrastructure. The new centre was commissioned in direct response to the longer waiting times faced by patients in South West London and Vanguard’s rapid delivery of this site meant that the public could be served sooner, lessening the burden on local facilities, leading to better care.

The new Surgery Treatment Centre has four operating theatres and a recovery area, delivering out day surgery procedures only. Standalone units such as this allow for same day treatment to be offered and performed in one setting, meaning the potential spread risk of the coronavirus is lessened by lack of movement, prioritising patient and staff safety.  Substantially increasing capacity, the surgical hub has allowed an additional 120 operations per week to be carried out, making undeniable progress in the clearance of waiting lists in Southwest London.  Additionally, there is no disruption to the main hospital site during the construction period so those in need can continue to be treated throughout.

Vanguard welcomes the Health and Social Care Committee’s evidence session and is pleased to see standalone surgical hubs being recognised as an important solution to tackling NHS waiting times and indeed, contributing to the reduction of regional health inequalities.