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Health Matters - Getting in shape for planned surgery

Health Matters - Getting in shape for planned surgery
04 September 2017

Dr Mike Clark, clinical lead for health optimisation at NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, and GP with High Street Surgery, Macclesfield

As we get older, wear and tear can cause parts of our body like knees and hips to weaken to a point where they need replacing.

When that happens, it’s vital that patients and health professionals take every possible step to reduce the risk of surgery and increase the chances of a quick, full recovery. One of the ways in which we can do this is to help people stop smoking, lose weight and cut down on their drinking before they go under the knife.

For that reason, we have introduced a health optimisation policy that takes effect this month (September) and will see GPs referring patients – where necessary – to a support service called One You Cheshire East.

There’s lots of evidence that people who stop smoking before surgery are less likely to fall ill afterwards or have problems with wounds taking time to heal. Did you know that breathing is easier within 72 hours of quitting while coughing and wheezing will have reduced in three to nine months? After 10 years, the risk of lung cancer will have fallen to half that of a smoker.

Losing weight reduces the risk of surgical infection, cuts the length of time in hospital and minimises the risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis.

Cutting down on alcohol will reduce blood pressure, help you lose weight and lower the risk of developing liver problems.

Patients who need to improve their health before planned surgery will be referred to the One You Cheshire East service provided by Cheshire East Council with partners including Peaks & Plains Housing Trust and Everybody Sport and Recreation. Programmes available include courses to encourage active lives, healthy cooking, losing weight and stopping smoking.

For more information, read our patient information leaflet on getting in shape for your operation. Alternatively, click here or call 0808 1643 202.

The health optimisation policy will affect up to 10,400 patients a year, made up as follows:

  • 6,900 patients needing to lose weight
  • 2,800 patients needing to take more exercise
  • 1,800 patients needing to stop smoking
  • 690 patients needing to drink less alcohol.

It’s important to stress that the policy doesn’t apply to emergency surgery or planned surgery that the surgeon and anaesthetist agree has become urgent for medical reasons. I should also underline that the policy won’t affect the waiting time for your operation.