A hospital consultant specialising in shoulder and elbow surgery is revolutionising care for his patients across South Cumbria and North Lancashire.
Mr Gautam Talawadekar joined University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) two years ago and is using innovative techniques to transform services and enhance care for patients of all ages.
Based at Furness General Hospital in Barrow, Mr Talawadekar also works at Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal and at Lancaster. In the last two years he has consulted around 4,000 patients and has performed more than 800 surgeries.
At Furness General in Barrow, Mr Talawadekar has introduced reverse full shoulder replacement surgery, instead of the traditional half shoulder replacement for people with shoulder arthritis and deficient muscle power. This type of surgery gives patients much greater mobility and less pain.
Patients who have undergone these replacements for degenerative conditions such as arthritis and traumatic injuries from accidents, have thanked Mr Talawadekar for giving them their freedom of movement back and for improving their quality of life.
Mr Talawadekar, who is an expert at complex shoulder joint/humeral (the long bone in the upper arm) surgery, said: “I am very proud of what I have achieved here in a short time in this Trust.
“It has been a very busy time and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have always tried to do my best for my patients and treat them as I would expect my family to be treated.”
Before Mr Talawadekar started working for the Trust, many of the most complex cases requiring shoulder and elbow surgery would have to be referred and dealt with at Wrightington Hospital in Wigan or at the Royal Preston Hospital.
Mr Talawadekar described one such case: “A lady from Barrow in her 60s came into Furness General Hospital with a fracture of the humerus.
“The bone was so badly broken that the blood supply to her arm was cut off. There was a risk that she could have lost her arm had there been a delay in treating her and it was recommended by the referral hospital at Preston that I take her to theatre on an emergency basis.
“A complex operation was undertaken where I had to explore the fracture and perform a shoulder replacement. I am pleased that I did a good job and the patient had a good outcome. It is much better for patients not to have to travel long distances for treatment.”
Mr Talawadekar specialises in several other types of surgeries including arthroplasty (joint replacement), arthroscopy (minimally invasive surgery also called ‘keyhole’ surgery) for pathologies affecting the entire upper limb.
His special interest in elbow is soft tissue sports injuries including tennis elbow, ligament instability and tendon ruptures. In shoulder surgery, his interest includes keyhole surgery for shoulder instability, rotator cuff tendon problems and frozen shoulder.
He also deals with complex trauma injuries to shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. Among the many ‘first’ surgeries performed by Mr Talawadekar at FGH, are subacromial inspace balloon surgery (a balloon-shaped biodegradable spacer can be used in surgery of the upper arm to increase mobility and reduce pain) and total elbow replacement surgery.
Mr Talawadekar worked in the South East of England and London before moving to Barrow. He achieved his shoulder/elbow surgical Fellowship training in London, where he worked at the well-known Elective Orthopaedic Unit at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals NHS Trust. Here he completed the prestigious British Orthopaedic Association Fellowship programme.
He has also had Higher Fellowship Training in Shoulder/Elbow and Sports Surgery at the acclaimed Pan Am Clinic in Winnipeg in Canada where he worked with stalwarts in the field including Dr Peter MacDonald who was President of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association. He also worked as a locum consultant in London.
As well as his surgical work, Mr Talawadekar is actively involved in national audit and research projects. He has been instrumental in trying to get the Trust registered to one such national study called ‘PROFHER 2’ that compares patients undergoing surgery for complex shoulder injuries/fractures. Mr Talawadekar is also faculty of the prestigious AO UK foundation which is an international leading organisation for trauma services and education.
‘I Want Great Care’, the world’s largest patient experience website, mentions Mr Talawadekar as one of their most recommended surgeons and has 89 five star reviews. This year, for a second year in a row, Mr Talawadekar has received their Certificate of Excellence, which is awarded to clinicians who receive consistently outstanding patient feedback.
Mr Talawadekar is also an active member of the IMSK (Integrated Musculo Skeletal Service) team and helped develop and introduce the ‘upper limb referral pathway’ for them. He works closely with IMSK physios to deliver high quality care to the patients. He regularly provides input to Emergency Department and is the Trauma Lead for this Trust site.
In addition to his hospital work, Mr Talawadekar teaches medical students from Lancaster Medical School at Lancaster University. He received a special mention from Year 4 Medical Students from Lancaster Medical School for having made positive change in their lives. He is also a trainer to junior trainees in orthopaedic surgery.
Mr Deepak Heslekas, Clinical Director of Surgery in Critical Care and Orthopaedics for UHMBT, said: “We are very fortunate to have this very talented surgeon in our Trust.
“Mr Talawadekar has single-handedly developed the shoulder service at Barrow and he has introduced new and innovative techniques which have helped the local population.
“Now patients from the Barrow area don’t need to travel to Preston or Wrightington for complex shoulder operations. Mr Talawadekar is not only a good surgeon but is a keen medical educator and trainer.”
Belinda Pharoah, Clinical Service Manager for Surgery, said: “Mr Talawadekar has been a very important part of our Orthopaedic team, especially at FGH where he has been able to offer his upper limb specialised complex surgery to all of our patients.
“This has prevented patients having to travel elsewhere for their surgery.
“He works really hard and is a very flexible member of the team who works very closely with the senior management team to help patients to be treated in a timely manner.
“It’s a pleasure working with Mr Talawadekar who is always amenable, flexible and approachable.”
Claire Alexander, Associate Director of Operations for Surgery and Critical Care, added: “The Surgical and Critical Care Group are very proud of the work undertaken by Mr Talawadekar.
“He has brought new techniques for shoulder surgery to the Trust and has significantly improved the patient experience at Furness General Hospital.”