Impact review 2020-21: surgical practice improvements

This has been a fantastic project to be a part of, and the figures we have been able to achieve at such a challenging time for many in hospitals are absolutely incredible. I can’t wait to see what develops from this!

Anne Pullyblank, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Southmead Hospital and Medical Director, West of England AHSN

PreciSSIon: reducing surgical site infections


reduction in surgical site infections after colorectal surgery in the West of England


patients prevented from developing a surgical site infection since the start of the PreciSSIon project


in estimated cost savings resulting from the PreciSSIon project

The collaborative element of PreciSSIon enabled staff and trusts to support each other during the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic and engagement was high, with theatre teams in particular being empowered to make a difference.

Dr Lesley Jordan Consultant Anaesthetist and Patient Safety Lead, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, and Clinical Lead for the West of England AHSN

PreciSSIon (Preventing Surgical Site Infection across a region) is our collaborative project to reduce the incidence of surgical site infection (SSI) after elective colorectal surgery. It launched in November 2019 and involves all five hospital trusts in the West of England.

We are spreading use of a bundle of evidence-based interventions, first introduced at North Bristol NHS Trust, to reduce the risk of infection after elective colorectal surgery.

The project has reached its target of reducing SSI rates in elective colorectal surgery by 50% by March 2021. It is also estimated that we have prevented 103 patients from developing a SSI since the start of the project, with a cost saving of around £509,574. This fantastic result was achieved despite the COVID response causing major disruption in hospitals.

Watch the short animation below to learn more about the bundle.

Read more about PreciSSIon

SecurAcath and PlusSutures


hospital trusts in the West of England have adopted SecurAcath and PlusSutures

As part of the AHSN Network’s support to the Accelerated Access Collaborative, we are driving adoption of a number of transformative technologies and medicines through the Rapid Uptake Products (RUP) programme.

This includes increasing the use of SecureAcath and PlusSutures.

SecureAcath is a device to secure catheters without requiring sutures or adhesives, helping to avoid issues with dislodgement and allowing faster and improved site cleaning. The device is now being used by all five hospital trusts in the West of England.

PlusSutures are synthetic, absorbable sutures containing triclosan, which protects against most common organisms associated with surgical site infection (SSI).

While only University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust was eligible (based on infection rates), Plus Sutures have now adopted by all hospital trusts in the West for colorectal surgery through our PreciSSIon project.

Safe tracheostomy care

The Safe Tracheostomy Care Programme works with teams across the acute sector to improve safety and support healthcare staff caring for patients with tracheostomies. This links in with the National Tracheostomy Safety project (NTSP).

In response to Covid-19, the NTSP and AHSNs developed a new Tracheostomy Toolkit to support teams across England adopt and use these safety interventions.

In the West of England we worked with our acute teams to establish their use of three evidence-based tracheostomy safety interventions:

  • Bedhead signs for patients
  • Standardised ‘bedside’ tracheostomy emergency equipment
  • Standardised tracheostomy daily care bundle.

Through a local network of staff involved in tracheostomy care, we facilitated two shared learning events to improve the consistency of these elements, as well as identifying further areas for improvement.

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