Providing care for hand disorders a re-appraisal of need

J Hand Surg Br. 2004 Dec;29(6):575-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsb.2004.05.008.


An audit of hand surgery activity in Derby during the period 1989-1990 produced manpower and resource recommendations for the speciality per 100,000 of population per year for the United Kingdom. The decade that followed the audit has seen major changes in health care provision, including reduced service activity by trainee doctors through restricted hours of work and less unsupervised surgery. A further audit of hand surgery activity was performed during 2000-2001 to assess the effects of these and other changes. This showed that there has been a 2% rise in trauma attendances, though trauma bed utilization had reduced by 12% and surgery time by 38%. Trauma out-patient visits had also reduced by 11%. Day-case trauma surgery rates were virtually unchanged at 63%. Women attend more frequently with traumatic hand injuries than they did 10 years ago and there is a rising incidence of hand injuries in the home, with a falling incidence at work. Elective referrals have risen by 36% and operations by 34%. The top ten diagnoses relate to the same conditions although their rankings have changed. Elective day-case surgery rates have risen from 64% to 94% over the decade. The 34% increase in elective operations has been absorbed within a 5% reduction in elective bed use and a 23% reduction in surgery time. Elective out-patient visits have also dropped 14% overall. This audit indicates that in 2000-2001 one whole time equivalent hand surgeon can service a population of 125,000. The national requirement for a 56 million population would be 448 whole time equivalent hand surgeons.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Ambulatory Care / trends
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / trends
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hand / surgery*
  • Hand Injuries / epidemiology
  • Hand Injuries / surgery*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / trends*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medical Audit*
  • Middle Aged
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation / trends
  • Sex Distribution
  • Traumatology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Workforce