The positive impact of GIRFT (getting it right first time) on arthroplasty services in times of COVID-19 (2022)

Type of publication:
Journal article

*Khan MM; *Khawar H; *Perkins R; Pardiwala A

Annals of medicine and surgery, 2022 May; Vol. 77, pp. 103655

Background: This observational study evaluates the trends in arthroplasty services across National Health Services (NHS) following the COVID-19 pandemic about GIRFT (Getting it Right First Time) guidelines concerning National joint registry data (NJR data). Introduction: Since the advent of the COVID-19 crisis sustainability of elective arthroplasty services have become a burning question in NHS. Capacity crisis, unknown COVID-19 infection status, lack of ring-fenced beds, winter crisis, and unprecedented trauma have aggravated the situation further leading to severe impairment in quality of life and service provision. GIRFT guidelines have suggested a few solutions to this crisis and one of them is dividing the hospitals into Hot (trauma) and cold (elective) sites. Objectives: To review NJR data for pre and post COVID era along with the service structure of the hospital and test the hypothesis that whether redistribution of services into hot and cold sites is a possible solution for sustainable arthroplasty service across NHS. Methodology: A search was made into the NJR data from 2019, 2020, and 2021. The First 7 months were taken from each year I.e. From Ist January to 31st of July. A review of entries for arthroplasty was considered for all hospitals across England and Wales. Hospitals in Scotland, Ireland, and Isles of Man and major trauma centers were excluded. Any hospital that was recording at least 15 arthroplasty cases for 4 out of 7 months in 2021 was considered for review. A brief evaluation of their service structure was made, and hospitals were divided into Elective Centres (EC), Urgent Care Centres (UCC), and District General Hospitals (DGH) with in-house emergency services based on the information provided on their official website. In NJR data "completed operations by submission date" column was considered as a reference for data collection. A total of 1807, 1800, and 1810 were identified for 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively. However, after applying inclusion criteria total number of entries was reduced to 120 hospitals. Data analysis and selection of hospitals were reviewed twice by two authors (MMK and AP) at different times to avoid any bias and reduce the chances of human error that can affect the outcome. A sub-analysis of data for the last 3 months (May, June, and July) was also performed for the respective years to get a better picture of arthroplasty trends and reduce the flaws of data interpretation. Ethical Approval and Data Consideration: A formal approval was taken from the NJR team in the UK before the data processing was initiated. The data source being used was available for public review on the NJR website. The team was happy for us to process and evaluate the data as per needs of our study. However, they requested a disclaimer and appreciation note for the members of the NJR team and hospital personnel across the UK that have made the provision of data and subsequent analysis leading to this study feasible. Results: 18 EC were included. The mean number of cases recorded per center was 427, 68, 348 for 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively.20 UCC were identified. The mean number of cases performed were 213, 24, and 195 in 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively. Similarly, 60 DGH with emergency services were included and the average number of cases recorded were 194, 27, and 166 for 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively. Compared to 2019 out of 148 DGH in 2019 only 60 can provide a sustainable arthroplasty service signifying a drop of 40% in 2021 in the number of DGH which are contributing to elective services. Conclusions: The overall productivity of theatres in terms of arthroplasty services has decreased since the reinitialization of services in 2021. There is a need of hour to divide the services into hot and cold sites in terms of A/E and elective centers to provide safe and uninterrupted provision of arthroplasty services and address long waiting times for patients. Provisional of ring-fenced beds and arthroplasty wards is more technically feasible in centers that are not providing in-house emergency admission pathways or are specialist, dedicated elective centers

Link to full-text [open access - no password required]