So much has changed since the Unit was created in 1997 - we have grown in that time into one of the biggest oesophagogastric cancer units in the country and now have four Consultant Surgeons (Nick Maynard, Bob Marshall, Bruno Sgromo and Richard Gillies) operating four days a week on patients with oesophageal or gastric cancer.
The strengths of the unit are of course the clinical outcomes from this surgery which are as good as anywhere in the world.
The team is always striving to improve, and much attention in recent months has focussed on improving our ERAS (Enhanced Recovery after Surgery) pathway.
This philosophy of care was pioneered in Seattle, USA, and a small part of our team went to visit the Unit in Seattle led by Professor Don Low. The group consisted of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and dieticians, and they returned full of ideas and enthusiasm.
It is always fascinating visiting other units – not only does one usually pick up good ideas and new ways of doing things, but also it reinforces how good so much of our service already is! This was certainly the case with our visit to Seattle, and it was very clear to all of us that many aspects of our unit were better than the Unit in Seattle!
Nevertheless, we picked up many good ideas about how to improve our ERAS pathway and the team has been very busy since then revising it and implementing the improvements.
We have seen a remarkable reduction in length of stay following oesophagectomy, with many patients now going home on the seventh post-operative day.
Our ward (the Upper GI Centre) continues to thrive, and is continually talked about throughout the Trust as “the best ward in the hospital” – indeed the Upper GI Ward and Team won the team award of the year in an Oxford Mail Hospital Heroes Ceremony!
This success is in large part due to the dedication and hard work of all our ward staff and specialist support clinicians, and I wish to thank them all for their inspirational work.