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Updated 27 April 2023

8 November 2022

Dorset County Hospital’s (DCH) Orthotics Department has won a national award for its work to treat patients with knee osteoarthritis during the pandemic.

The team won the Safe Restoration of Elective Care Services Award at this year’s HSJ Patient Safety Awards in recognition of their hard-work and dedication to patients’ experiences and positive outcomes.

At the start of the pandemic, many elective knee surgeries had to be cancelled and waiting times for patients were over a year.

Under the NICE guidelines, the use of a knee brace to support patients was an approved treatment - but not routinely used.

The team set up a clinic with around 50 patients to offer them the choice to try a knee brace to see if it helped improve their quality of life while they were waiting.

Participants completed a questionnaire at the start of the trial and then again after six weeks and six months of using the brace. Participants said their quality of life and symptoms improved, as it had helped ease pain and allowed them to remain active. Some patients were able to reduce their use of painkillers, and in one case there was no longer a need for surgery at that time.

Matthew Wood, Orthotist at Dorset County Hospital, said: “We are incredibly proud of the big impact that a small profession like ours can have on patients’ lives and to be recognised on a national scale is just brilliant.

“Knee osteoarthritis can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. In the late stages of arthritis other problems can also occur; we can become less mobile, gain weight, and experience a significant mental burden. By using the brace, patients were able to keep active and continue working while they waited for surgery - which had a big impact on their quality of life.

“We were delighted with the results. Two-years later we are building upon this success and to see this impact now starting to spread to other Trusts is incredibly humbling.”

Attached is a photo of the Orthotics Team at the HSJ Patient Safety Awards