Another 100 operations a week are set to be carried out at an east London hospital thanks to two new multi-million pound theatres.

A new ‘elective surgery hub’ was unveiled at King George Hospital last week – one of eight nationally-accredited surgeries recognised for meeting ‘top clinical standards’.

The £14m expansion will introduce new high-tech equipment for doctors, allowing them to perform surgeries via remote-controlled robotic arms, and double the number of recovery beds. 

Surgeons will cover a variety of fields, from orthopaedic surgery to soft tissue work. 

Of the 68,000 patients on the waiting list, 6,000 require inpatient surgery, according to Barking, Havering, Redbridge University NHS Trust (BHRUT) chief executive Matthew Trainer.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “A hundred more surgeries a week, in that context, is pretty significant.” 

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A major bonus of the new theatres is that they are more comfortable for patients, he said. He described the sleeker theatres as “beautiful and bright,” compared to some of the “older and darker” rooms elsewhere in the hospital. 

He added that, while the trust had been successful in reducing its longest waiting times, it still found itself struggling to “keep pace with demand”. 

He said: “Since the pandemic, we’ve seen the amount of emergency surgery we do increase significantly. A lot of the theatres we used for planned care, we’re now having to use for emergencies such as caesarean sections, and that’s put pressure on the capacity we have for other operations.”

Romford Recorder: Wes Streeting is shown around a new theatreWes Streeting is shown around a new theatre (Image: LDRS)

As well as the surgical robots, the hospital has also introduced the Cytosponge, a small camera that can help identify precancerous conditions in the stomach and throat. 

Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal, who attended the ribbon cutting event alongside Ilford MPs Sam Tarry and Wes Streeting, said the extension had been “badly needed”. 

Cllr Athwal, who will stand as the Labour candidate for Ilford South at the next election, said: “The innovation of the staff – the fact they planned for it, asked for it, and delivered it on time and on budget – shows the NHS can work. 

“That innovation was doctors-led and nurses-led; we have to take on that board."

The trust has been steadily improving its performance since the Covid-19 pandemic. February saw the best performance in A&E services by BHRUT since 2020, though issues with overcrowding still remained. 

Steady improvement over 2023 also saw the trust jump from being one of the worst performing in the country to becoming one of the top 25. 

Nurses and specialists managed to keep the rate high of four-hour discharges despite 600 more ambulances bringing patients to Queen’s Hospital than in February 2023. 

That increase was the largest spike in the entire capital, based on data from the health service.