Q-bital, the international arm of UK-based Vanguard Healthcare Solutions, provided a portable operating theatre to The Alfred hospital (Melbourne, Australia) – one of the country’s biggest hospitals.

The installation, which took place after a storm damaged one of the hospital’s primary theatres, surgeons have completed what is believed to be a world first – undertaking open heart surgery in a mobile operating theatre environment.

Professor Paul Myles, the hospital’s Director of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, described the solution as “innovative” and said the installation of the theatre saved numerous patients from waiting weeks or months for their procedures.

Q-bital designs and builds mobile healthcare solutions, including laminar flow theatres, which are used throughout the world to create extra capacity for hospitals who may be refurbishing or updating their estate or following an emergency. The units are completely mobile and can be transported by land and sea.

The laminar flow theatre was shipped from the UK, completing a 15,500-mile journey by sea over 50 days. It was functional within days of its arrival in Australia following a thorough commissioning and testing process. The portable suite was extensively modified to accommodate open-heart surgery.

Professor Myles said: “The first thing we had to do was consider safety. We wanted to run simulation sessions to triple-check everything was okay. The theatre exceeded expectations, and after a thorough trial process, staff began easy surgeries there.

“We started with some straight forward open-heart surgery cases and they went really well; it’s the first-time open-heart surgery has been done in this type of portable operating theatre to my knowledge in the world.”

While the space was modified to cater to the open-heart surgeries, staff at the hospital agreed it could be tailored to suit other procedure types.

The theatre remained at The Alfred until repair work was completed on the hospital. From there, it will move around Australia based on where it is needed the most.

Steve Peak, Delivery and Development Director at Q-bital, said: “Q-bital are delighted to be working alongside The Alfred in this our first collaboration in Australia. To see the laminar flow theatre being used in this way is fantastic and shows how versatile these units can be and how they can be used successfully for the most complex of procedures.

“Theatres such as these can offer a quick solution and that offers flexibility and portability for hospitals who perhaps need an extra operating theatre in a location that perhaps didn’t need it in the past.”