Taxpayers\' Alliance voices its fury after Oxford NHS trust reveals plans to spend tens of thousands of pounds providing Ipads for patients having surgery under local anaesthetic
Critics have slammed the decision by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to give patients iPads to distract them during surgery.
The pilot scheme, which it is anticipated will be rolled out in 46 operating theatres run by the trust, could cost £18,000.
People expect their taxes to pay for doctors and cancer drugs, but the trust's decision to spend money on iPads will leave hard-pressed families wondering if the trust has got its priorities right
As part of the trial, patients at the nearby Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital have watched their favourite films, surfed the net and checked their emails during local operations that use local anaesthetic.
It is hoped the approach will help to distract people from lengthy surgeries that require absolute stillness.
But the move has provoked criticism from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which is dubbing it a waste of money.
The organisation’s political director, Dia Chakravatry, said: “Taxpayers will wonder if this really is the best use of their money when necessary savings are having to be made across the public sector.
“People expect their taxes to pay for doctors and cancer drugs, but the trust's decision to spend money on iPads will leave hard-pressed families wondering if the trust has got its priorities right.”
With the lowest-range iPad costing £399, buying enough to cover all the trust’s operating theatres would cost £18,354.
One of the first patients involved in the study watched a film, checked emails and played chess during a nine-and-a-half-hour hip replacement and lower limb orthoplastic operation.
The idea of using technology as a distraction during surgery was the brainchild of consultant anaesthetists Svetlana Galitzine and James Matthews based on research that found patients preferred being kept awake as it improved recovery times, but they needed someone to focus on to keep them relaxed.
Many patients can feel anxious at being conscious during an operation, so we are pleased that we have been able to develop a way of making that experience less stressful
For the current trial, the iPad is mounted on a docking unit, which comes with headphones, meaning the screen can be adjusted for comfort.
Dr Galitzine said: “Many patients can feel anxious at being conscious during an operation, so we are pleased that we have been able to develop a way of making that experience less stressful.”
“Most operations can be done under local or regional anaesthetic, as long as the kit is available and the patient, anaesthetist and the surgeon agree to use this technique. Feedback from patients so far has been very positive.”
Trust spokesman, Martin Leaver, added: “This is in the very early stages, but we think we are the first in the country to try it.”