A couple of weeks ago I was at the Association of Breast Surgery's conference in Manchester. I had intended to post about it before but seem to have been incredibly busy.
I was there with the Independent Cancer Patient's Voice (ICPV), an organisation that aims to bring the patient's voice into clinical trials; which liaises with researchers and encourages, trains and supports patients to get involved. We had a stand in the exhibition and spent the conference networking and attending sessions. It was an excellent opportunity to hear about new developments and catch up on new and existing trials and research.
Perhaps the most controversial development that was presented was the 23 Hour Pathway - in effect day surgery but with a possible overnight stay for all non-reconstructive surgery. While this is, in effect, what happens with great success for many people at the moment, there was some considerable disquiet at the thought of it becoming standard.
There were several reasons for the disquiet. One was a fear of complications and one surgeon pointed out that she operates on a Friday which would mean less back-up being available for a patient at home the day after surgery. Another point raised was that some people's circumstances don't lend themselves to day surgery and if it was standard that might be overlooked. There was a fear that if day surgery is routine it might be seen to imply that it was minor surgery whereas it is usually only the starting point of a potentially difficult treatment process with emotional and psychological impact. It was also pointed out that less time in hospital might make it impossible for Breast Care Nurses and physios to see patients and check on them after their surgery, with a possible detrimental effect on physical and psychological recovery.
ICPV had previously held a study day that included this topic and had produced a briefing paper so we were able to hand this to visitors to our stand as well as to feed into the discussion. It looks likely that this will be rolled out nationally but hopefully the concerns will be noted and the process modified where necessary to take these into account.
Personally I was very pleased to be discharged after slightly more than 23 hours and a night in hospital. But I was also glad that there had been time for my BCN to visit me before surgery and again the next day, and that I had a visit from the physio to check that I knew how and when to do the exercises.