Groundbreaking new day surgery center in Tallaght cuts wait times

The Reeves Day Surgery Centre - An innovative Community Based Day Surgery Centre in Tallaght University Hospital
The Reeves Day Surgery Centre – An innovative Community Based Day Surgery Centre in Tallaght University Hospital

The Reeves Day Surgery Centre – An innovative Community Based Day Surgery Centre in Tallaght University Hospital – won the third prize in the 2021 European Association of Hospital Managers (EAHM) Innovation Awards for projects already implemented. 

As well as being a prizewinner in the EAHM awards, it was also honoured at the Irish Project Management Institute’s Awards in 2021.

Some 2,000 extra procedures went ahead at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) last year (2021) with the opening of the new Reeves Day Surgery Centre (RDSC). The new unit, which  is the first of its kind in Ireland, is just over a year old and is located across the road from the hospital. It is kitted out with four operating theatres, five admission rooms, over 20 recovery beds and a discharge lounge. The new

The new centre has proven a very a valuable asset in allowing the continued delivery of non COVID care during the current pandemic. The CEO of Tallaght University Hospital Lucy Nugent said, “We are on target to have no patient waiting longer than three months for any day surgery procedure by June 2022.”  Given the increased demands posed by the ongoing COVID situation, there are few who wouldn’t recognise this as an impressive state of affairs.

The RDSC is open Monday to Friday from 7am to 8pm, running two surgical sessions per day in each theatre, with each lasting four hours in length and with a 30 minute turnaround time between each session.

The unit is for patients that need elective surgery under general or local anaesthesia or sedation and are scheduled to go home on the same day following their procedure.

The aim of the project was to significantly improve access to day surgery for the patients of TUH so that no patient would have to wait more than three months for a procedure.

The hospital said a maximum of three months from time of referral to day surgery was optimal as it allowed patients sufficient time to prepare and organise their lives for the operation and recovery at home, without undue clinical impact associated with prolonged delays.

The RDSC project was delivered on time and on budget despite COVID-19. Built in a vacant retail unit, it opened in December 2020 and enabled the Hospital to increase its day surgery activity, despite COVID-19 surges.

The unit is helping to eliminate long wait times for routine day surgery improving access for patients while it supports the Hospital with the increasing demands of serving a growing and ageing population

The bigger plan

The opening of the RDSC is part of an ambitious five-year strategy for the hospital. The project objective was to drive transformational change in how the elective day surgery service was delivered by moving this service to a custom designed off-campus setting using the latest digital theatre and anaesthetic management systems.

A key driver for selecting the off-campus setting was to protect the resources associated with day case surgery from being absorbed by the demands of emergency or unscheduled care which has grown significantly in recent years across the health service. This approach ties in directly with the Sláintecare objective of separating scheduled and unscheduled care.

The name of the Centre is an acknowledgement of the Hospital’s history.  The Alice Reeves Dayward at Tallaght University Hospital. was traditionally the location for day surgery. With the move, the surgical team decided to take some of that heritage with them to the new building ,whilst also acknowledging the international year of the Nurse & Midwife.

Alice Reeves, began her career in the Adelaide Hospital, first as a Staff Nurse and then as a Ward Sister. She was subsequently appointed Matron to Dr. Steevens’ Hospital in 1918 and played a major part in establishing the General Nursing Council, which later became known as An Bord Altranais.

Broader context

TUH was originally designed as a 650-bed hospital however, due to budgetary constraints at the time 120 beds were cut from the final build.

“Since opening, the hospital has experienced ever-increasing demand for its services without a commensurate increase in capacity. With the planned construction of additional private and social housing schemes in the surrounding areas, our population growth will accelerate further,” a spokesperson said. “The hospital urgently needs to develop both capacity and new ways of working in order to meet increased and more complex demands.

“Fortunately, unlike many other hospitals, Tallaght is not constrained on its 33 acres campus and is able to expand both horizontally and vertically as well as offsite becoming a ‘hospital without walls.’”