WAITING lists across the borough are set to be slashed after a new £15m theatre – ‘immune from cancellations’ – opened its doors to the public for the first time on Monday.

Barnsley Hospital has been working closely with other local trusts to create the new facility – the Mexborough Elective Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence (MEOC) – which welcomed its first patients earlier this week thanks to NHS funding.

The plans, which were first touted last year, picked up pace quickly and only took six months to complete.

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) received £14.9m of capital investment funding from NHS England (NHSE) to develop the elective orthopaedic centre at Montagu Hospital.

Working in partnership with Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Rotherham Hospital Foundation Trust, colleagues at DBTH will lead the programme to implement a new, dedicated orthopaedic hub for the people of South Yorkshire, with health professionals undertaking hip and knee replacement inpatient procedures alongside foot and ankle, hand and wrist, and shoulder day case surgery.

In the first year of operation the centre will undertake more than 2,000 orthopaedic procedures on behalf of the three partner trusts, equating to about 40 per cent of the current orthopaedic waiting list locally.

Richard Jenkins, chief executive at Barnsley Hospital, said: “All trusts involved in this project are rightly proud of what has been achieved.

“Together we are capable of providing a service that will be a beacon of excellence, ensuring high quality orthopaedic care for local people.”

The service will operate 50 weeks a year, starting as a five day a week service, increasing to six days once running to full capacity, expected by mid-2024.

It is anticipated that knee and hip replacement patients will be able to go home the same day as their surgery, in line with national best practices.

The exterior of the centre has received its finishing touches, with landscaping and pathways completed.

Specialist equipment, including a C-Arm – an advanced medical imaging device based on X-ray technology – have been successfully delivered and installed in the theatres and in other areas within the centre.

Additionally, stocks of medical supplies are in place, ready for upcoming procedures.

Both medical and clerical staff have undergone selection and induction, receiving training in the specific processes and protocols associated with the service.

Richard Parker OBE, chief executive at DBTH, said: “The MEOC will make a huge difference for those patients who require orthopaedic surgery.

“The service will help to not only reduce waiting lists for orthopaedic treatment in the locality, but also reduce health inequalities, as the South Yorkshire area it serves sits within one of the most deprived areas in the country.”