Report claims surgeons should specialise in men’s most common op

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The most common NHS operation carried out on men should be performed by specialist surgeons, leading experts say today.

Of 2,600 surgeons carrying out inguinal hernia repairs, more than half do less than one a month and one in five perform only one a year, a report for the newly-launched Hernia Outcome Campaign finds.

More than 80,000 NHS hernia operations are carried out each year but the report said patients would get better repairs if they were worked on by dedicated surgeons.

In Yorkshire a third of 270 surgeons carried out fewer than five a year in 2012-13 and only three per cent performed more than 100. Figures show one surgeon at the Doncaster and Bassetlaw trust carried out 197 hernia repairs but the most a surgeon at the Leeds NHS trust did was 66.

In Leeds, 49 surgeons carried out hernia operations, with 10 performing just one each. At the Wakefield-based Mid Yorkshire NHS trust, nine out of 32 surgeons performed one each, compared with eight out of 26 surgeons in Barnsley.

Authors of the report including Adeshina Fawole, a surgeon at the Mid Yorkshire trust, said: “All the academic evidence suggests that if dedicated surgeons are performing a higher number of procedures then the outcomes for patients will be much better, with less pain and discomfort following the procedure.

“We must move away from a situation where so many inguinal hernia patients are treated by surgeons performing so few procedures a year. For a condition that for most people is painless, an unacceptably high percentage are left with chronic pain.”

The report, funded by medical devices firm CR Bard, recommends all NHS trusts should have two or more specialists performing at least 25 procedures a year to reduce complications and recurrence, improve outcomes and save the NHS cash.