Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Long distance travel for routine elective surgery: questionnaire survey of patients' attitudes.

British Medical Journal 1990; 300 doi: (Published 05 May 1990) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1990;300:1171
  1. G P Howell,
  2. D Richardson,
  3. A Forester,
  4. J Sibson,
  5. J M Ryan,
  6. B T Morgans
  1. Surgical Unit, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Swindon, Wiltshire.


    OBJECTIVE--To carry out an audit and assess the acceptability of long distance travel to patients on a lengthy surgical waiting list. DESIGN--Audit and questionnaire survey. SETTING--Military hospital in Wiltshire. PATIENTS--116 Patients on a general surgical waiting list at Leighton Hospital near Crewe. INTERVENTIONS--Preselection for medical fitness at a waiting list review clinic. RESULTS--Roughly half of patients offered the facility of travelling 120 miles (190 km) for their routine elective operation at the health authority's expense accepted. The average waiting list time declared by the patients who travelled was 28 months, and 13 patients stated that their condition prevented them from working. Only four patients regretted their decision to participate in the scheme. Lack of visitors did not cause undue concern. CONCLUSIONS--Some patients did not agree to travel for their operation but almost all of those who did so found the scheme satisfactory. Some minor problems were encountered but these could probably be overcome by ensuring use of appropriate transport, extending the postoperative stay when necessary, and more careful selection of patients for an anaesthetic. For efficient use of theatre time in such schemes it is crucial that the operating consultant surgeon should be in charge of case selection.