Knee surgery choice benefits retired RAF Wing Commander

When retired RAF Wing Commander Gary Edwards OBE, 58, from Royal Wootton Bassett, knew that he needed total knee replacement surgery on his left knee, he did his research and was able to tell his GP that he wanted to be treated in his local Care UK hospital. 

“I had a specific window of opportunity for surgery between work contracts,” said Gary. “I wanted to have had my surgery and be recovered by the time my new contract started this autumn, so I took all my notes to my GP who agreed I needed the surgery and accepted my request of where I wanted to be treated. After leaving the RAF, I spent some time as a senior manager in the NHS and I was aware of my right to choose where I received treatment.   I would encourage others to do the same if they have the opportunity.”

He added: “Effectively, I benefitted from two Care UK hospitals, as I was able to have my pre-operation assessment at Devizes NHS Treatment Centre (which is nearer to where I live) and my full surgery at Emerson’s Green NHS Treatment Centre on the outskirts of Bristol – which is an easy journey from my home.”

Gary started to experience problems with both his knees in around 2000. The situation grew gradually worse and in 2012 he had his right knee replaced. He had the option to have both knees replaced at the same time but decided against this because he was concerned about it being harder to recover quickly.

However, with an operational right knee the problems with his left knee decreased as his new knee was able to compensate for it. Over time though, the pain in his left knee increased and spread to his hip, resulting in lost sleep, a limp and the inability to do a wide range of physical activities.

Within nine weeks of the appointment with his GP, Gary had had his knee replaced at Emerson’s Green NHS Treatment Centre. He commented: “The facility at Emerson’s Green itself is modern and clean, with free parking, free wifi, and free TV. The food is good, and the staffing ratios appear to be very good. I met with the consultant orthopaedic surgeon and the anaesthetist before the operation, and both again, twice afterwards, either during the planned twice-daily ward rounds or at other times. I always felt that all of the staff had sufficient time to ensure that my treatment and recovery was as good as it could be. Post-operatively, the nursing and physio support was excellent, the staff friendly, professional, and attentive. I couldn’t fault it.”

He is also full of praise for the aftercare he has received: “I have been to see the physio at three and six weeks after discharge, and it is great to have this level of follow up. I am also due to see my consultant surgeon. Not only is the administration and experience at Emerson’s Green very good, but the aftercare is also fantastic – I am very pleased. I chose a Care UK hospital because excellent CQC ratings and shorter waiting times – I was not disappointed.  Because Emerson’s Green only does planned (elective) surgery, I also knew my operation wouldn’t be postponed due to other priorities.”

Gary retired from the RAF as a Wing Commander in 2014, when he was based at the UK Defence Academy at Shrivenham.  He subsequently returned there under contract, to help develop the Defence Studies Masters-level degree course. He appointed OBE in recognition of his leadership at RAF Lyneham while the base was under immense pressure as the main air logistics hub during the Iraq War. Over a third of the base’s personnel, including the Station Commander, were deployed overseas despite the enormous increase in tasking, leaving Gary, the base’s deputy commander, to lead the base under very challenging circumstances.

Rob Thomas, Hospital Director at both Emerson’s Green and Devizes NHS Treatment Centres, said: “Gary is a great example of a patient who knows their right to make a choice about where they are treated. Gary also left us a glowing review on NHS Choices and we are both grateful for his comments and delighted that his experience has been an excellent one. I am proud of the fact that our treatment centres remain available to local patients wishing to exercise their right to choose local, rapid treatment.”

Devizes and Emerson’s Green NHS Treatment Centres are part of the choice of care for NHS patients in the region. If your GP (or optician for eye treatments and dentist for dental treatments) decides that you need treatment you can choose to have your NHS treatment at either Devizes or Emerson’s Green NHS Treatment Centre and benefit from the two-hospital arrangement.