A Carlisle clinic is paving the way of a more efficient way of working that could save the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The Cumbria Hand Surgery Service, at London Road Community Clinic, has performed hand operations – traditionally done in a hospital under general or regional anaesthetic – since 2016.

Research recently featured in The Bone and Joint Journal, a word-leading orthopaedic publication, highlighted the efficiency of the clinic’s practices and as a result three other health trusts are considering adopting a similar model.

Consultants use local anaesthetic with adrenaline and the surgery – mainly fasciectomy for dupuytrens contracture – is performed in a community based setting.

Not only does it have favourable outcomes for patients, it provides the NHS with a substantial cost saving when compared to the cost of a hospital-based procedure.

In the last two years alone, performing dupuytrens surgery at the clinic has saved the NHS almost £100,000. In 2018/2019 there were 51 cases, with 58 in 2019/2020.

Between 12 to 18 patients are seen at the clinic which run twice a month.

The clinic is run by consultant colleagues Mr John Harrison and Mr Jagannath Chakravarthy, orthopaedic surgeons from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead.

Mr Harrison said: "It's a far more efficient way of working. We can do the same treatment for £900 less per case. It's staggering.

"As a result of the publication, three other UK trusts have been in touch with us about our way of working and are looking to change to that model."

He added that the pandemic has highlighted another "massive advantage" of community-based working. Other than a four-week period, the clinic has continued throughout, while many hospital departments have been working at reduced capacity.

"Lots of things in hospitals have ground to a halt for no other reason than that hospital couldn't function because of covid," he said.

"The trusts ground to a halt because of having to shut wards or numbers of staff. Everybody got caught by it whereas off-site working allows you to carry on."

The clinic deals with three other conditions - trigger finger, cubital tunnel syndrome and lumps and bumps - but Mr Harrison said this way of working could be adopted by other specialisms.

Dave Bodecott, 68, of Motherby, between Penrith and Keswick, was treated at the clinic in 2019 by Mr Chakravarthy.

He inherited a condition from his grandmother where his little finger bent to 90 degrees. It affected many of the things he enjoys including playing the guitar and climbing.

"It was just like going to a private clinic. It was very quiet and it's a small site. It was incredibly professional," he said.

"I can now play the guitar and climb and everything. It's brilliant. It has really enhanced my quality of life.

"It was incredibly efficient and I'm just so grateful. I was nearly in tears when he had finished the operation."

The Cumbria Hand Surgery Service was developed in partnership between Cumbria Medical Services (CMS) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

"Cumbria Medical Services is an advocate for providing patient services and care wherever it may be safe for the patient in the community," said manager Anita Wilkinson.

"CMS has been delivering services in this way for over six years now and has demonstrated that it can be a more cost effective way of delivering patient care than some of the more traditional hospital based models.

"These hand clinics also provide patients living in Cumbria with a far more convenient opportunity to receive the treatment they need in a community based setting with a waiting time of only 4-6 weeks."