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Surgeons Choose North Cumbria As New Permanent Home

Two new permanent consultant orthopaedic surgeons have joined the team at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust this summer and will work at both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

Mr Tim Petheram joined the Trust in June after completing a six month fellowship in hip and knee replacements at The James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough. This follows a year of specialist fellowship training at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Centre in Exeter, a world-renowned centre for orthopaedics and in particular hip replacement, and previous roles at the prestigious Kings College Hospital London and various training posts across the north east and Cumbria – including the Cumberland Infirmary.

Mr Petheram said: “Having worked in some of the country’s major orthopaedic centres, I have always preferred working in district general hospitals where there is a real sense of community.  The staff in North Cumbria are local people who are passionate about looking after their local community and they really identify with their patients’ needs.

“I am delighted to join the Trust at a time when there are many exciting changes taking place to improve patient care and especially as we look forward to the opening of the new West Cumberland Hospital next year.”

Mr Biju Sankar also became a permanent member of the Trust’s orthopaedic team in July 2014 after initially being employed as a locum consultant last year.

Mr Sankar moved to the UK in 2001 from India and trained in the north east.  He has also completed fellowships at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Glasgow where he specialised in computer assisted knee replacement surgery and, most recently, at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. Having trained as a registrar in the Cumberland Infirmary in 2008, he has always wanted to return.

Mr Sankar said: “I really enjoyed my time training in North Cumbria so I jumped at the chance to join the Trust when a permanent role came up. My wife is a breast radiologist and will also be starting with North Cumbria in September so we are moving across to Cumbria with our two children and looking forward to living in the beautiful countryside.”

The duo will work across both hospital sites, looking after urgent orthopaedic trauma cases arriving at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle round the clock, as well as the thousands of patients having their planned orthopaedic operations in North Cumbria – many of which are now happening at  West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

Mr David MacKay, clinical director for trauma and orthopaedics at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “I am delighted to welcome Tim and Biju to the orthopaedic team.

“We’ve had many positive changes to our service over the past year as we continue to develop effective cross-site working between our clinical teams and robust pathways of care that are now having a demonstrable impact on clinical outcomes for our patients with mortality continuing to reduce.

“From listening to our patients, we know that there are still areas where we need to improve further, particularly around travel between the two sites for orthopaedic care and this is something we are committed to improving so that the whole experience of care, is as good as it possibly can be.”

Since the centralisation of high risk trauma and orthopaedic surgery at the Cumberland Infirmary in June 2013, the Trust has recorded a marked reduction in mortality with patients having access to dedicated 24/7 trauma care.  This has also enabled more planned orthopaedic operations to take place at West Cumberland Hospital with a 19% increase in the past year alone and a new consultant-led fracture clinic now in place.

Mr MacKay added:  “The opening of the new West Cumberland Hospital next year will mark a very important milestone for us and allow us to do even more operations than ever before.  We have designed the new hospital with four laminar flow operating theatres suitable for orthopaedic procedures and with the fantastic new en-suite rooms, we expect more and more patients will choose to have their operations in the comfort of the new state of the art facility.”

The opportunity to work with ‘buddy’ trust and acquisition partner Northumbria Healthcare was also an attractive prospect for the two new orthopaedic recruits.  With the support of Northumbria, significant progress has been made to reduce orthopaedic waiting lists and increase capacity for more operations to happen locally in Carlisle and Whitehaven.

Mr Petheram said: “It appealed to me that we are joining forces with Northumbria and will eventually become one of the largest centres for joint replacements anywhere in England. We are already having weekly meetings with the clinical team in Northumbria where we can discuss our patients’ treatment plans as a clinical network which is hugely positive for our patients and allows us to share best practice.”