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Patients with certain types of trauma injuries and skin cancers can now access faster treatment.
Instead of waiting days or even weeks for minor surgery following their outpatient or referral appointment, some can now be treated on the same day.
It’s thanks to the opening of a new Plastic Surgery Treatment Centre at the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery at Morriston Hospital, Swansea.
It offers day case surgery for those patients who do not need a general anaesthetic.
Instead of waiting for operating theatres to become available, the patients are seen in procedure rooms and allowed home a few hours later.
Twenty-three-year-old Joseph Attwood, pictured above with girlfriend India Morgan and staff, was the first patient to benefit.
Having administered a local anaesthetic, surgeons partly removed the nail on his right ring finger in order to remove a deeply embedded splinter that had caused a serious infection and swelling.
The treatment was carried out on the same day that Joseph, from Hay-on- Wye, had been seen at an outpatients’ clinic following a referral by his GP.
The speedy service meant he did not have to repeat the 120-mile round trip from his home for treatment at a later date.
“It would have been pretty bad if I’d had to wait another couple of days,” said Joseph.
“It was much less daunting than going into a theatre. The room itself was comfortable and all the equipment in there was great.
“I think it will be great for people in the same situation as me because the longer you leave these things the worse it’s going to be, the more painful it’s going to get and probably, you’ll need even more treatment.”
Senior Matron for burns and plastic surgery, Clare Baker, said one of the two treatment rooms is currently up and running, seeing up to six patients on a daily basis Monday to Friday.
As capacity is increased, additional patients will be seen and treated. This will also include a service by specialist GPs who are qualified to carry out plastic surgery procedures.
Clare said that, as well as trauma patients, the centre would also be treating patients with skin cancers such as melanoma and basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.
“We looked at how we could treat some of these things in a different environment,” she said.
“These patients don’t necessarily need to be in a full blown theatre environment, but do need a clinical, sterile area.
“Going into a treatment centre is also nicer for the patients as it can be less frightening than going into an operating theatre.”
The Plastic Surgery Treatment Centre is the latest development at the regional unit, which is a world leader in the care of burns patients and those needing reconstructive plastic surgery following trauma, cancer, or birth defects. It also carries out hand and nerve surgery.
Opened at Morriston Hospital 25 years ago on September 4, 1994, after services moved from St Lawrence Hospital in Chepstow, the centre provides plastic surgery services for adults and children in south, mid and west Wales and beyond, covering a population of almost three million.
It is also the adult burn centre for the South West UK Burns Network, responsible for a population of 10 million adults as far afield as Aberystwyth, Portsmouth and Oxford.
Consultant Plastic Surgeon Dean Boyce, who specialises in hand and peripheral nerve surgery, has been instrumental in setting up the new centre.
He said: “Development of the treatment centre will free up scarce resources in our operating theatres and will enable better quality and more timely care for a large majority of our patients, by treating them in a more appropriate and more efficient environment.”
The new centre, which also has a six-bed recovery area, is expected to treat between 2,400 and 3,200 cases per year.