TWO doctors have come up with a mobile solution to cut NHS surgery waiting lists.

With surgeons facing a backlog of procedures before Covid struck last March, the pandemic added pressure to an already-stretched system, with many non-urgent operations being cancelled over the past 12 months.

Doctors Martin White and Ross Kelly, of Cumbria Medical Services in Carlisle, had been discussing how they could help — and came up with the idea of a mobile surgical theatre.

With the help of an innovative team at Neat Vehicles in Nottingham, they were able to design a bespoke surgical solution.

Neat Vehicles has a history of designing similar units for the poorer countries, but had never had to produce something so technical and state-of-the-art — or for use in this country.

Funding the £750,000 project themselves, Dr White and Dr Kelly are excited this could be the future for surgeries that only require local antithetic.

Leading the way is with the plans, Dr White said: “It will mean that patients don’t need to be treated in hospital.

“The unit can be parked anywhere such as a hotel car park as it is self-sufficient.

“It is a 14m trailer unit which, when parked, both sides pop out to provide a reception, waiting room, consulting room, a 24sq m operating theatre, clean and dirty utility and staff/ patient rest room. It is fully accessible for disabled patients.

“It conforms to all the stringent operating theatre requirements. By building such a unit, patients don’t have to wait in waiting rooms anymore.

“They will sit in their cars and be called in to have their operation and walk straight back out to be taken home by a relative.

"In the era of Covid, this should reassure patients and give them confidence to come forward to have their long-awaited treatments.

“The waiting lists have never been so high and hopefully this first unit paves the way to increase the NHS capacity.

“In time, we hope it will actually bring about longer-term change in that we move away from the traditional, hospital-based model to more of a flexible approach to the provision of health care.”

The provision provide will give the public the opportunity to have treatment for skin cancer as well as eye surgery which could be almost double as Dr White explained they could perform up to 25 cataract surgeries a day.

He added: “The unit is focused on providing local anaesthetic surgery including eye surgery, orthopaedic, general and skin cancer surgery.”

The two GPs have a vision to facilitate high-quality Covid secure surgical services in the community.

Dr Kelly explained: “We recognise the devastating effect Covid has had on waiting times for surgery due to reduced capacity in hospital theatres.

"Drawing on our experience of delivering local anaesthetic surgery in the community, it is clear that more can be done out of hospital.

“The enigma unit is a self-contained mobile surgical unit that can be deployed with relative ease on a suitable site.

“It puts local anaesthetic day case surgery within easy reach of healthcare providers, enabling them to quickly establish a service without long-term costs.

“Surgical services can be delivered closer to home which is important in rural communities. It avoids the hospital setting as many still have concerns regarding Covid.

“Lastly, it will allow hospital trust additional operating space allowing them to work through the extraordinary large waiting list that the past year has created.”

The unit will be ready to carry out procedures in May.

NCIC NHS Foundation Trust has been approached for comment.