Research has shown well-informed patients tend to have fewer complications after treatment.

With this in mind, the private healthcare company Bupa, which runs hospitals in Hastings, Horley and Tunbridge Wells, has drawn up a series of booklets covering a range of operations such as hip replacement and knee and back surgery.

Each deals with the operation itself, suitable preparations to make before being admitted to hospital and what to expect during the recovery stage.

The booklets encourage patients to think about how some of their everyday tasks may be affected by their surgery.

For example, while many patients realise they probably would not be able to drive immediately after surgery, many may not have thought about how they would get in and out of a car as a passenger.

The booklets have been developed with the involvement of patients who were keen to reduce the amount of paperwork they received when coming into hospital yet remain informed about what would happen to them.

Previously, patients would have received pre and post-operative exercises and instructions and patients were also eager to obtain lifestyle information to help them make a fast recovery.

This is now all in one booklet and includes a glossary of medical terms, where to go for further information and a place to note questions that may arise between consultations.

Dr Annabel Bentley, assistant medical director at Bupa in Sussex, says the information is vital.

She says: "Lots of medical research proves the benefits of providing information to patients as a part of their treatment.

"Well-informed patients suffer less stress and anxiety, have less pain and lower blood pressure after surgery, recover more quickly from their operation and have fewer complications.

"Information about the 'whys, whens and hows' of treatment was once considered as unnecessary for the patient to know.

"However, these days, there is greater awareness of health issues and greater need for information.

"The new surgery booklets also provide this information from a patient's perspective rather than from a doctor's point of view."

The booklets look at the surgical process, include detail about what to expect after the operation and some helpful exercises and how to cope with stairs after surgery.

They also have practical advice for patients about their day-to-day activities and how these will be affected by having surgery.

The booklets explain the operation is only one part of the treatment.

Just as important is preparing to undergo surgery and rehabilitation afterwards.

Being as fit and healthy as possible before the operation will speed recovery and reduce the chance of complications. Walking is excellent exercise for the legs, heart and lungs.

In the weeks leading up to an operation, it is worth trying to walk a short distance each day if pain permits.

It is also useful to join in a low-impact physical activity or keep-fit class and there are some appropriate exercises that can be done at home.

After the operation, people will need to use their shoulders and arms more than usual, for example, to sit down.

One way to prepare for this is to exercise by pushing down on the arms of a chair and trying to lift the bottom of the seat using the arms.

Your physiotherapist or occupational therapist will also be able to help you get back in shape.

Dr Bentley said: "Information about surgery not only helps people prepare for an operation but is also understood to contribute to their rehabilitation afterwards.

"Of course, health information is not a cure-all. It is only one part of the jigsaw. A positive relationship with your doctor, nurses and physiotherapy team, an efficient hospital environment and good communication between clinicians are all essential."

Further details about the leaflets are available on