A surgeon from the United States Air Force Base (left) is working with a British colleague

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RAF Lakenheath surgeons work with medical staff at Addenbrooke & # 39; s Hospital

Patients are seen "faster" after US airmen and women at NHS hospitals in England have started to "brush up on rusty" skills.

The RAF Lakenheath USAF nurses in Suffolk worked with staff at five hospitals this winter.

Colonel Thomas W Stamp, commander of the 48th Medical Group, said he had given doctors "a greater breadth and depth of cases".

Nick Jenkins, medical director of West Suffolk Hospital, said it means "we can treat more patients faster."

A USAF surgeon told the BBC she had performed nearly 200 surgeries.

Five nurses and five Airbase technicians work at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital; Addenbrooke & # 39; s Hospital, Cambridge; the Royal London Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital in London.

Since 2012, approximately 20 American air force surgeons have deployed in NHS hospitals, and in the future entire teams of Airbase surgical staff could perform operations.

Col Stamp said a "long-term, potential target" would be to treat NHS patients at the RAF Lakenheath hospital, but safety issues need to be addressed before it could be considered.

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US Air Force base Surgeon Lt's Col Jamie Swartz, who has 71 operations at Addenbrooke and 113 at West Suffolk, said she had "a fantastic opportunity to work on more complex cases."

He said it was important for US military personnel to gain experience with injuries that were not common in the Airbase hospital.

"We do not see many patients with serious injury from a car accident or from gunshot wounds and stab wounds," he said.

"Partnering with the NHS gives our nurses, technicians and physicians greater breadth and depth."


By Nikki Fox, BBC's Look East Health Correspondent

Military nurses and doctors working in our hospitals can not save the NHS. However, this is a good example of how gaps can be bridged by working in partnership, when the health service is strong and there is not enough staff.

Lakenheath's medical staff also have experience in dealing with emergency situations and complex operations that are not available to a fit young population.

The potential idea of ​​bringing civilians to the Air Force base to deal with military medical teams is interesting. It would use empty operating theaters and save money as Lakenheath employees would not charge the NHS for their time. However, the patients would need to be quickly brought to the base without security checks.

It would also be difficult to get the NHS to agree, contracts would have to be drawn up in the event of mistakes or litigation, and it is hard to see how this would work without putting money in the hands.

Captain Scott Hiles, who worked as a nurse in an accident and emergency at the West Suffolk hospital, said, "It's really beneficial, so we get some clinical-grade refresher that sometimes rustles us if we're not just abandoned to those often. "

The US Airbase surgeon Jamie Swartz, who has performed 71 treatments at Addenbrooke and 113 at West Suffolk, said she had "a fantastic opportunity to work on more complex cases."

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The program helps US medical staff at RAF Lakenheath to gain "greater" experience in cases

Dr. Jenkins said as they help the surgeons and nurses gain experience "as they use their skills to benefit our patients at West Suffolk Hospital."

"The trained staff also increases our capacity so we can treat more patients," he added. "It's a real win, a win."