Patient’s praise for ‘marvellous’ mobile theatre teams

A patient who suffered “terrible pain” before a knee replacement at the mobile theatre has praised teams for their “absolutely marvellous” work.

Willie Flett said he was struggling to walk before the operation earlier this month – one of almost 180 carried out since the theatre opened at the Gilbert Bain Hospital in January.

In a BBC Radio Orkney interview, replayed at today’s (Tuesday) NHS Shetland health board meeting, the Kirkwall patient described how his pain had worsened following a serious road accident 33 years ago.

After being diagnosed with osteoarthritis around the start of the pandemic, Mr Flett said it had become so bad he struggled to walk more than 20 yards at a time.

“Literally every day was getting worse,” he said. “I was going to be housebound.”

With huge backlogs in elective care, Mr Flett could have had to wait years for an operation.

However, thanks to the Scottish government’s £2.3million investment, the mobile theatre was secured to address waiting lists for Shetland and Orkney patients.

Mr Flett said everything went “wonderfully well” – even allowing for the gales which almost cancelled his flight north.

He said the specialist staff were marvellous.

“From the minute I was there, everybody knew what they had to do, they were so professional,” Mr Flett added.  He said the service was “unbelievable” and he “couldn’t recommend it higher.”

Whereas Mr Flett feared he would have been “just another number” if he had travelled south for treatment, he said in Shetland the service was much more familiar.

Thanks to the “Orkney-Shetland connection”, he said it felt like he was at the Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall.

Mr Flett also said the nurses were “full of fun” and everyone on his ward was “yapping away”.

“I would recommend to anyone, if you get an opportunity to go there please take it,” he said.

Board chairman Gary Robinson welcomed Mr Flett’s “ringing endorsement” of the service.

Director of nursing and acute care Kathleen Carolan said it showed how well a “northern alliance” could work

The board heard 130 cataract removals and 48 orthopaedic procedures, such as joint replacements, have been carried out so far at the mobile theatre. 


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