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Blog - Fitter Better Sooner

Dr Hilary Swales, lead for patient information at the Royal College of Anaesthetists, tells us about Fitter Better Sooner – a new patient information toolkit to help patients understand how they can best prepare for surgery and the impact a healthy body can have on their recovery.


The life of a GP is a busy one – limited time to see patients, challenging medical conditions and, as with the rest of the health service, pressure on resources. However, there is much that patients can do to improve their own health when appropriately signposted and motivated.

Having an operation is a major event in a patient’s life and many will have had limited experience of hospital; for some, this can be a frightening experience. Clinicians need to focus on helping patients access the information they need about their surgery and recovery so that they can feel more in control.

From a GP’s perspective, anything that can improve recovery from surgery – reducing the number of visits in the short term, and improving longer term health – is good news.

To improve the transition from primary care to the surgical pathway in secondary care, the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) has developed ‘Fitter Better Sooner’ – a patient information toolkit that GPs can share with patients which will help them to better prepare for their operations. It is endorsed by both the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Surgeons.

The Fitter Better Sooner toolkit consists of one main leaflet describing the toolkit, six specific leaflets covering some of the most common surgical procedures – including hernia repair and cataract surgery – and a helpful animation on how patients can prepare for hospital admission. The toolkit provides clear explanations and advice to lead the patient all the way through the surgical pathway – from referral, through pre-assessment, surgery itself and the recovery period at home. All of these resources are free to download from the RCoA website so that patients can view them in the comfort of their own homes.

Resources for healthcare professionals have also been produced to help signpost patients to the toolkit; these include posters, flyers and labels for patient notes. The animation can be downloaded as an MP4 file from the RCoA website and played on screens in GP surgery waiting areas.