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In shape for surgery

We know that the healthier people are before surgery, the fewer complications they may have and the better their outcomes can be. Eating healthily, being active and stopping smoking all make a real difference to health and people who are in good general health usually recover better from surgery and have fewer complications.

Throughout Devon, from 1 August 2017, we will be implementing a health improvement programme for people with specific risk factors, so that they can access support to improve their health prior to surgery.

This is designed for patients undergoing non-urgent, elective surgery and it does not affect emergency or urgent surgery or diagnostic procedures.

GPs will work with patients to improve their health before a referral for surgery. This could mean helping the patient to manage their diabetes or blood pressure or it could mean helping them to stop smoking. In some more complex cases, patients will be referred into secondary care.

There is support available to help people improve their health. Patients will be signposted to healthy lifestyle services by their GP and by secondary care clinicians. An important feature of this work is consistent messages from all healthcare professionals and consistent access to support services.

This is a comprehensive attempt at improving the safety, effectiveness, experience and value for money of surgery. There are clear benefits, as it will help us reduce the risk of complications and the resulting length of stay in hospital and achieve improvements in surgical outcomes.

There are also longer-term positive impacts of controlling chronic disease and avoiding risky health behaviour. These are significant for individual patients and their families and they are also important for the NHS and for social care.

A stakeholder briefing, which explains the new health improvement programme in greater detail, is available here.