Understanding and enhancing post-discharge recovery after “fast-track‟ elective surgery

Increasingly, patients undergoing major surgery will be treated within Enhanced Recovery Programmes (ERPs), also known as „fast-track‟ surgery. The aim of these is to minimise complications and improve recovery by preparing patients well for surgery and recovery, and giving them the best care during and after surgery. At the moment most ERP pathways end at hospital discharge, or soon after with short-term telephone support. ERPs are often judged in terms of length of hospital stay. We know very little, however, about patients treated within ERPs once they are discharged. For example, there is a lack of research examining how such things as reduced hospital stay impacts on primary health care, or how at-home recovery is experienced by patients and carers, who are often immediate family. There is also a need to measure the outcomes of ERP beyond the hospital stay.

In this study we will develop and pilot an intervention to be delivered in the community through primary care to improve the patient experience following surgery within an ERP. The study will also investigate the patients‟ post-hospital experience following "fast-track" surgery for colorectal (bowel) cancer, as well as the experiences and views of carers and primary health care staff, which is an essential first step in developing an intervention.

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