Hemant works as a Professor of Orthopaedics at the School of Medicine, University of Leeds and Honorary Consultant at Chapel Allerton Hospital (C/O Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust).
Hemant is also an NIHR senior investigator, deputy director of Leeds Institute of Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine (LIRMM). He holds an honorary position in University of Oxford (Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences). He has pursued a career in translational research in orthopaedics and has a diverse research portfolio in excess of 10 Million. His clinical expertise is in the field of hip/knee arthroplasty (joint replacement) and research interest is across the entire spectrum of osteoarthritis.
OPN: What drove you to choose surgery as a career – and orthopaedic surgery in particular?
HP: Orthopaedic surgery is an exciting area of work with lots of sub-specialties and makes a quick and lasting improvement in patient’s symptoms giving them a new lease of life. It is heartening to see the positive impact and ability of patients to return to work, engage in social, cultural and recreational activities and be an active and earning member of family and wider society.
OPN: It is clear that the healthcare industry has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, what has been the greatest impact for you within the orthopaedic industry?
HP: I think every specialty has been impacted and orthopaedics is no exception. Our waiting lists have grown significantly and as has been eluded to (in the media), this has caused a lot of suffering for a large number of patient groups and their families: physical as well as mental impact. There seems to be a wide variation in terms of waiting lists across the UK and I hope the waiting lists improve with time. No further Covid outbreaks, ring-fenced beds and sustained NHS funding with meaningful support to social care is needed to ensure we continue to progress in the right direction and in a timely fashion.
OPN: What’s the best part of your job?
HP: I am an academic clinician and I guess I enjoy the variability my job brings. I equally enjoy operating, seeing patients in out-patients, identifying a clinical problem and using my research skills (and feeding them to my multi-disciplinary group) to solve the problem.
OPN: … and the worst?
HP: See a patient and/or his/her family suffering!
OPN: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
HP: Leading a research group of my own and heading the clinical service in Leeds. Being recognised for my translational research by the NIHR (senior investigator award) and one of only five international (UK) members of American Knee Society.
OPN: Tell us more about your current research in the area of liposomal bupivacaine used in knee arthroplasty.
HP: Liposomal bupivacaine (LB) is a long-acting local anaesthetic which has been widely publicised and used in the USA over the past decade for a variety of surgical interventions including knee replacement – a commonly performed procedure for managing severe knee arthritis. The surgery is associated with severe knee pain and LB was considered as a potential solution to reduce knee pain post-surgery in these patients. We conducted the largest study in the world comparing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of LB as compared to current practice across various NHS Trusts.
OPN: What discoveries have you made and what could this mean for the future of patient experience and outcomes following knee surgery?
HP: We did not find any advantages in using LB in patients who underwent a knee replacement i.e. patients did not have better pain relief, did not have better clinical outcomes in the short- and medium-term and there were no cost savings as such. These results confirm that routine use of LB cannot be justified in the NHS for managing patients undergoing a knee replacement.
OPN: What’s the next step in your research?
HP: It is possible that the duration of action of LB (up to 72 hours) is less than what is desired and I am exploring ways to supplement current pain relief regimes with other modalities.
OPN: Are you planning to attend any orthopaedic events this year?
HP: Yes, I will attend national (British Knee Society, British Orthopaedic Association) and international (European Knee Society, European Federation of Orthopaedics and Traumatology) meetings.
OPN: If you weren’t a professor in orthopaedics what would you be?
HP: An astronaut
OPN: What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
HP: Aim high, believe in yourself and your time will come!
OPN: If you were Health Minister for the day what changes would you implement?
HP: Involve medical profession in the decisions you take – they know what is needed to deliver a sustainable and efficient NHS!
OPN: Away from the School of Medicine – what do you do to relax?
HP: Walk, play tennis, travel, spend quality time with family and friends
OPN: How do you think the future looks in the field of orthopaedic surgery and what are your predictions for 2023 and the next decade?
HP: Exciting. There will be an increasing push towards personalised medicine, patients being more actively involved in their care, shift towards prevention rather than cure and last but not the least, remote patient monitoring thereby reducing the need for hospital attendance and visits.