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A new ‘Jack and Jill’ ophthalmology theatre has opened at Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, which is reducing waiting times and ensures that all patients in Fife requiring cataract surgery can have the procedure carried out locally.

The demand for patients requiring cataract surgery has increased considerably over recent years. Around 3,000 cataract procedures are carried out each year in Fife and this number is expected to rise to 3,500 by 2022/23.

Until very recently there was only one cataract theatre in Fife and keeping up with the increasing demand has meant providing weekend waiting list theatres, and in some cases meant patients travelling to Glasgow for their out-patient appointment and treatment.

A decision was taken, therefore, to increase capacity by adding an additional theatre to run side-by-side with the existing treatment area, creating what is known as a ‘Jack and Jill’ theatre, at a cost of more than £560,000. This enables a single surgeon to work simultaneously across two adjoining theatres and allows nursing staff to prepare the patient before the surgeon arrives to start the operation. Once the procedure is complete, nursing staff can prepare the theatre for the next patient as the surgeon moves on to the adjoining procedure room to start the next case.

The ‘Jack and Jill’ model is already used successfully by high volume units in other parts of the UK and the new arrangement will create additional capacity for around 500 cases per annum with scope to increase this still further as demand increases.

This additional capacity is already reducing waiting times for patients requiring cataract surgery and ensures all patients in Fife requiring cataract surgery will be able to have the procedure carried out locally. The new model will also improve NHS Fife’s performance against the 12 week treatment time guarantee and may potentially provide additional capacity to neighbouring health boards to reduce waiting times for patients outwith Fife.