Innovative Healthcare Trends – The Barn Operating Theatre

A large room full with medical equipment.

With the current drive towards improving efficiency and saving costs across hospitals, barn operating theatres have become a new and innovative way to use theatres.

The term ‘barn theatre’ refers to the open-plan design of the main surgical area, where each patient is treated in a dedicated space alongside the next patient, with a specialised air canopy over each station to prevent the spread of infection. The barn theatres have adjoining anaesthetic rooms and traditional recovery areas. Benefits of barn theatres include lower infection rates, improved safety and enhanced team working.

However, for multiple operations to take place in a single open space, it is essential that the ventilation system provides the protection against cross-contamination that would normally be provided by the intervening theatre walls. It’s also essential that the correct doors are specified to maintain the correct room pressures and prevent the spread of infection.

The open plan design of the barn theatre can offer lots of potential and numerous benefits, including:

– Opportunities for enhanced team working
– Greater peer awareness of contemporary surgical practice and standards
– Improved supervision for non-consultant surgeons
– Opportunities to develop non-doctor anaesthetists in a safe environment
– Efficient space utilization
– Reduced infection rates through improved theatre discipline.

Although the concept of the barn theatre is still relatively new, there have been an increasing number of barn theatres completed within the past few years; including Wrightington Hospital in Lancashire, Broadgreen Hospital in Liverpool and Chase Farm Hospital in London. There are a few other similar projects, including those at Salford Royal Hospital and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.

Dortek have supplied specialist doors to a number of these theatres, with Wrightington hospital and Chase Farm Hospital being the most recent. Dortek hermetic sealing sliding doors were specified on the recent Chase Farm project to provide maximum hygiene, ease of access and control of air leakage. Our hermetic doors have a 99% air tight seal, which helps prevent air leakage and reduce the risk of cross contamination in these areas. The doors and privacy vision panels were also supplied with lead and laser protection and touchless automations. The hygienic GRP construction of our hospital doors gives them a smooth, non porous and easy to clean surface which is ideal for infection control areas. Unlike timber doors, Dortek hygienic GRP doors have no natural seams, voids or crevices which can harbour bacteria. They are also free from hard to clean lips, joins and ledges (even around vision panels).

Barn operating theatre doors.
Dortek Hygienic GRP Hermetic Doors at Chase Farm Hospital

In essence barn theatres have numerous benefits, for orthopaedics surgery in particular and are designed to help hospitals treat more people more quickly, safely and cost-effectively. The unique concept means that more operating theatres can be put into smaller spaces with reduced members of operating staff. With multiple surgeons working alongside each other it’s also an ideal opportunity to share best practice and standards.

In the following video, Dr Alan McGlennan, medical director at Chase Farm Hospital, talks through the benefits of the new barn theatres in more detail.

Back To Top