The South West Regional Anaesthesia Group aims to support the patient experience by both increasing knowledge and skills of regional anaesthetic techniques amongst medical staff, and by providing equipment to improve the patient experience whilst undergoing awake surgery under "block".

August 2013 SOWRA purchases iPads to improve patient experience

A total of 10 iPad minis have been purchased from the charity's funds to provide audio-visual distraction for patients whilst having awake surgery. Derriford hospital, The Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Torbay Hospital, The Royal Cornwall Hospital, and Musgrove Park Hospital have all successfully bid for this equipment and will receive 2 systems each, comprising an ipad mini, headphones, protective case and a mounting bracket.

These will enable patients to listen to music, or watch downloaded or streamed video content including films and catch up tv services whilst having "awake" surgery under regional anaesthesia.

Staying awake during surgery under block is not new, but has traditionally been used only for short procedures on the arm or hand. Many more major surgical procedures such as hip or knee replacement are also amenable to this technique, but the longer duration of surgery (1-2hours) and the use of noisy surgical instruments such as drills and saws mean that most patients request some form of sedation to make them unaware of proceedings - the new iPads now offer the patient something to distract them and keep them occupied.

By supplying these devices to NHS trusts we hope to promote all forms of awake surgery under regional anaesthesia and to change patients perception about having awake surgery.

The benefits for patients include avoidance of the side effects of sedating anaesthetic drugs, reduced need to insert anaesthetic breathing tubes and an improved early recovery. For certain patient groups with certain medical conditions, avoiding sedation can be a safer option.

The first patients have already used the new system with great feedback.

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