Gloucester Rugby's star players kicked off the new season with a different touch, by officially opening a new £1.5m operating theatre at the Winfield Hospital.
Rory Lawson and Nicky Robinson performed a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hospital's third theatre and toasted the staff who run the unit on a daily basis, including the Theatre Manager, Shirley Beasley and Professor Jonathan Brown, Consultant Gastroenterologist.
The brand new theatre is welcome news for the 60+ surgeons who operate from the Winfield, allowing them greater choice of times as well as additional facilities to operate on the growing number of NHS patients.
Theatre Manager, Shirley Beasley - who celebrates her 10th anniversary working at Winfield this month - loves the variety and fast moving environment of the theatre unit and is thrilled with the new facilities. "It's great to have more space to work in and we now have some of the best surgical equipment available" she says, "That's better not just for us but for our patients, too" she concludes.
The number of operations carried out at the Winfield in the last 12 months was nearly 4,000, of which approximately half related to orthopaedic procedures - such as arthroscopies, joint replacements and spinal surgery - as well as those relating to sports injuries.
The large new theatre is fully fitted with £500k state of the art equipment including an image intensifier and the latest ultra clean ventilation system. All three theatres have a laminar flow system which changes and filters the air hundreds of times a minute to ensure an ultra clean operating environment.
The new build also enabled a doubling of size of the Recovery Room and a Day Suite for up to six patients undergoing endoscopies, cataracts or other minor operations. It also allowed a refurbishment and enlarging of the on-site sterilisation unit which autoclaves and sterilises all equipment on site. The Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the UK and was last year given a bacteria-free MRSA and C-dif rate. It also achieved a Gold Standard Award in Housekeeping within the Ramsay Group for its Hygiene and Service Delivery.
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).