MINEHEAD Hospital has been offering a variety of types of day surgery for the last 20 years, both at the old hospital in the middle of town, and the current building off Luttrell Way.

While the hospital does not have the facilities to offer general anaesthetic, as there are not any overnight surgical beds, it does offer a range of day case surgery, from orthopaedic wrist and hand operations to podiatric surgery for feet and ankles.

The hospital’s theatres now have a brand-new laminar airflow system thanks to a kind donation from its League of Friends, which means even more surgeries are possible at Minehead.

Tessa Sanford, theatre sister at the hospital, which is run by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (FT), said: “The portable laminar airflow system is used to take small bacterial particles out of the air, reducing the chance of infection – a huge improvement in patient safety.

“It means that all types of bone surgery, such as joint replacements, are a lot safer – it’s really clever and the beauty is that it’s so quiet that patients don’t even realise we’re using it.

“It can be targeted to the specific area of the body where the surgery is taking place too, and it’s really easy for our colleagues to use – they just need to undertake a simple five-minute training session.

“Our colleagues have told us that they really like using the new system and were able to give us feedback on any early teething problems, which are inevitable when using a new type of system like this.”

“We also carry out carpal tunnel procedures, certain urology procedures, and much ocular plastic surgery, as well as dermatology, maxillofacial, and minor oral surgery – it’s quite a lot really.

“One of the real benefits of our quieter theatre is that we’re able to train students who are starting off in their career in surgery, by giving them exposure to these types of minor surgery in a more relaxed setting.

“And our patients do not need to go to an acute hospital for treatment and are able to leave us on the same day as their operation – great news as we know that people recover quicker at home.

“In effect, our patients are getting the same level of service that they’d get at Musgrove Park or Yeovil Hospital, but nearer their home in a community setting.”

Mr Michael Hutchby is one of Somerset FT’s surgeons who works out of Minehead Hospital, specialising in podiatric surgery.

“Our podiatric surgeons are allied health professionals who’ve undertaken 10 years of training, including two Master's degrees at the University of Huddersfield, as well as three years of practical training, leading to a Fellowship with the Royal College of Podiatry’s Faculty of Surgery” he said.

“This surgical specialty generally covers feet and ankles, and is predominantly community-based, although there are a small number of larger specialist units elsewhere in the country.

“At Minehead Hospital, we work closely with our nursing colleagues and our unit is staffed by a team of podiatrists, who are advanced practitioners who can undertake local anaesthetic blocks, as well as resuscitation and steroid injections.

“With diabetes on the increase, our unit is very important as we help to prevent a patient’s condition from getting worse, so they are less likely to need additional surgery on our main orthopaedic units at Musgrove Park and Yeovil Hospital.

“I want to say thank you to the hospital’s League of Friends for buying this new laminar airflow unit and for all their support for our hospital – it has certainly maintained the scope of my practice in the community setting, and is likely to increase it.

“The League is a great advocate for Minehead Community Hospital and is always keen to promote the work we do here and to encourage people to use the hospital’s facilities if they need us.”