"New knee saved my dance school"

July 17th 2018
  • Champion ballroom dancer thanks Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre for new knee which saved his dance school Bob Gibson knee
  • “When I came off that dance floor from my first dance after my operation, I cried” – patient
  • “Bob is one of a growing number of people who are exercising their rights to choose and coming to us for care” – Head of Nursing and Clinical Services
  • Switching to a shorter waiting list – what you need to know
  • The 5 signs you may need a knee replacement
  • Video interview with patient
Bob Gibson, 61, is a champion ballroom dancer who owns and runs the Puttin’ On The Ritz Dance Centre in Plymouth. Delays getting treatment for his knee nearly put an end to his business, but thanks to Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre he is now back on the dancefloor and his business is thriving.
Bob has been a dancer since he was four years old. He was three times England 10 Dance Champion in the 1970s, and his line formation team were North West champions in the same period. He was a regular competitor on the TV show Come Dancing and he has provided choreography for Coronation Street and in the West End.
He moved to the South West 20 years ago after injuring both knees. “We came to retire,” he said, “but I slowly rebuilt the strength in my knees because I couldn’t imagine a life without dancing. We set up the dance school at about the same time and moved into our current dance studio five years ago.”
All was well until two years ago when Bob’s left knee began to cause him pain. He said: “I couldn’t put any pressure on my knee and dancing became almost impossible. I was giving a lesson to a class of children one day when my knee just went. Students were starting to leave the school in numbers – who wants to be taught how to dance by a teacher with a limp? We open for seven days a week and the pain was really taking its toll. I was frightened that I would lose the business.”
Bob tried to get treatment but to no avail. He was told time and time again that he didn’t need a new knee, despite his knee joint being bone-on-bone with arthritis.
“In the end an acquaintance suggested that I exercise my right to choose where I had my treatment. He said I should speak to my GP about being referred to Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre, which I did. I got the referral and things started happening quickly from then,” said Bob.
Ten weeks after a partial knee replacement, Bob is back doing the quickstep. More students have signed up for classes at Puttin’ On The Ritz and the school is back to entering national competitions.
Said Bob: “It’s amazing. Just 10 weeks after my operation I am right as rain, back to teaching and pain free – and the school is doing marvellously. When I came off that dance floor from my first dance after my operation, I cried – I’m not ashamed to admit that. I am a different person – the constant pain really affected my sense of well-being and my mood. My students can’t believe the difference.”
He added: “I can honestly say that, without surgery from Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre, I would have lost my business. I give the hospital 100/100. I was only in for three days but it was just brilliant, I can’t praise them enough. I would urge anyone who is in pain and waiting for treatment to ask to be referred to Peninsula.”
Sue Farrell, head of nursing and clinical services at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre, commented: “We are so pleased that Bob’s surgery means that he is back to dancing and has been able to continue with his business. The right to choose where we have treatment is a key part of the NHS Constitution, as is our right to move to a shorter waiting list if we have been told we must wait for longer than 18 weeks for treatment. Bob is among a growing number of people who are exercising their rights and coming to us for their care.”
Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre is the first hospital of its kind to have received a rating of ‘outstanding’ from the Care Quality Commission. It provides a range of major and minor surgery in orthopaedics, cataracts and endoscopy.
Switching to a shorter waiting list – what you need to know
NHS England offers guidance to patients about swapping to a shorter waiting list.
If you find yourself in this position and you are waiting for a procedure, you should contact the Devon Referral Support Service (DRSS) to talk about transferring your care. The DRSS may be able to do this at that point, or it may advise you to go to your GP and ask for a referral to Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre or other provider of your choice. If you do not hear from the DRSS within one week, you should contact your local Care Commissioning Group to ask for the transfer.
When you contact the DRSS you may be given a list of hospitals to choose from. If Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre or other provider of your choice is not on that list you still have the right to come here if you wish to – let the DRSS know.
Once all this is done your referral information, diagnostic results and waiting list information will be transferred to your chosen hospital.
5 signs you may need knee replacement surgery
More than 70,000 knee replacements took place across England and Wales last year. It is a major, yet effective and common operation and over time becomes the only way to eradicate pain and improve quality of life.
How do you know when you may need a knee replacement? Here are 5 signs to look out for and to discuss with your GP:
  • 24-hour severe pain in the knee and the surrounding area, or elsewhere such as the hip or ankle, which impacts on your daily life even when you are resting
  • Swelling and inflammation of the knee which no longer responds to medication
  • Stiffness in the knee and immobility
  • ‘Bowing’ of the leg
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs no longer provide relief from pain