An innovative change in the way cancer services are provided at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, means patients can go home sooner after surgery.

The trust is one of only 13 pilot sites in England working in collaboration with NHS Improvement to take forward the day case or overnight stay discharge model for women receiving breast surgery.

This innovative approach means that many patients are able to have surgery and return home on the same or next day. This is suitable for the two out of three breast cancer patients who do not need complex reconstructive surgery.

Dibyesh Banerjee, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon, said: “Patients who come for breast surgery tend to be aged between 50 and 60 and are usually fit and well, so there is no medical reason why they should not go home on the same day.

“Discharging patients earlier reduces inpatient stays and improves patient recovery. It also helps patients avoid deep vein thrombosis and hospital acquired infections, such as MRSA, which are often associated with increased length of stay.”

In the past patients might have been in hospital for up to six days, receiving pre- and post-operative assessments and aftercare, before they were allowed to return home. Under the new model, patients are communicated with well in advance of their operation in an extended pre-operative assessment and their aftercare is provided by community nurses in their own home.

The latest data shows that St George’s Hospital is leading the way for southwest London, treating 83 per cent of eligible patients under this model. None of the patients discharged within 23 hours were readmitted within 30 days Mr Banerjee stresses that patient safety is always paramount: “Patients are only discharged if it is safe for them to go home. Once they get home they are not left to their own devices – they are supported by a named Macmillan breast care nurse or district nurses in their own homes.”

Felicity Surridge, service improvement project manager for the South West London Cancer Network, said: “This is an excellent achievement by St George’s breast unit. They have managed to reduce average length of stay for all breast patients from more than five days, prior to implementation of the model, to two days. Overall, it is a fantastic achievement by the team.”

Celia Ingham Clark, clinical lead at NHS Improvement, said: “St George’s has shown what can be achieved and their work has contributed to building the evidence base that the day case or overnight model of care does not compromise quality, is safe and patients like it. NHS Improvement is keen to show the excellent work witnessed at St George’s and throughout the rest of the sites in relation to sharing of best practice to all hospitals.”

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact the communications team at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust on 020 8725 5151 or Outside working hours, please page the team by calling 0844 822 2888, leaving a short message and contact details for pager SG548.

For further information on the breast day case or overnight stay model please go to or email Angie Robinson, national improvement lead, at