WITH hopes of reducing waiting times and prompting quicker recovery for hernia sufferers, a hospital has started performing less invasive forms of surgery.

The Practice Plus Group Hospital, in Shepton Mallet, is now undertaking laparoscopic surgery for hernia patients.

This surgical technique, which involves the surgeon making small incisions less than one inch in diameter, is widely regarded as less invasive than traditional surgery.

Read more: Illegal rave near Watchet sees hundreds attend & block road

The medical centre has an operation waiting time of only four to six weeks compared to the usual 12 month wait for non-emergency hernia surgery on the NHS.

Taunton resident Philip Roper, 66, has shared his experience as the first to receive laparoscopic hernia treatment at the hospital.

He said: "Travelling with my hernia was not an option.

"The hernia pain had become unbearable, and I couldn’t imagine being on holiday in such agony and was worried about running into complications abroad.

"It was my doctor that suggested I go private as he confirmed it was not an emergency, and I’d need to wait over a year for surgery.

"I decided to bite the bullet and book a consultation to get the hernia sorted once and for all."

On his recovery post-surgery, Mr Roper said: "I was in and out in a day.

"I can honestly say everything went so smoothly – the team were amazing and put me at ease.

"Just three weeks in you’d never know I’d recently had an operation."

According to recent research commissioned by Practice Plus Group, one in five people with pre-existing conditions, including hernias, plan to go on holiday without the correct level of travel insurance.

This puts them at risk of substantial healthcare expenses whilst overseas.

Consultant Mark Tomlinson said: "At this time of the year, it can be a growing concern for people like Philip on waiting lists, in pain and wanting to go on holiday with an existing health condition.

"They’re worried about going away when they’re in limbo."

However, the group's new approach to hernia treatment hopes to alleviate this burden.

He added: "We see a spike in enquiries for private surgery at this time of year as people start planning summer breaks, so we are pleased that we are now able to offer this procedure enabling our patients to enjoy holidays pain-free."

The group, named 'Hospital Group of the Year', has 11 hospitals and surgical centres throughout the UK, each rated 'Good' or 'Outstanding' by the Care Quality Commission.