A pioneering method of speeding up patients' recovery after surgery has been hailed a success after a trial in Scotland.

Doctors at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank have been using the Caledonia technique, which originated in Denmark, to treat hip and knee replacement patients.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon visited the hospital yesterday and met staff and patients involved.

The Caledonia technique, based on the Denmark technique, has been adapted by Scottish surgeons.

Patients are counselled about the procedure beforehand to alter their attitude towards the surgery and recovery and then receive a local anaesthetic. Compared with a combination of epidural and spinal analgesic, recovery and rehabilitation have been far quicker.

Andy Kinninmonth, the hospital's clinical director of orthopedics, said: "The main part is about changing the ethos of having an operation. Instead of thinking you're coming in for a major operation, think of it as a 60,000 mile service.

"They get up faster and get home faster. They still have a spinal for the operation but with the local anaesthetic they are able to get up sooner and start the mobility process sooner.

"We used to treat everyone with an epidural and they were in bed for a day and a half. As soon as the spinal wears off we get them up. It is a day ahead and, in terms of discharge, it is two to three days ahead."

Dr Kinninmonth said he was unconvinced when he went to Copenhagen to see how it worked. But he is now converted.

He said: "There were four of us and all were sceptical, thinking it couldn't work or wouldn't work. But now we are all doing it. Most patients have been positive - some have experience of both methods and they prefer the Caledonia as they are out of bed and on the road to recovery far quicker."

John Lynch, 75, from Airth in Central Scotland, had a hip replacement operation at the hospital on Monday. Yesterday he was out of bed and on his feet.

He said: "I feel good so far. It has been great. I am waiting for the physiotherapist to come and put me through my paces. I had the other hip done in Stirling a few years ago. That went well, but this is better."

The Caledonia - Clinical Attitudes Leading to Early Discharge - technique reduces the time between admission and discharge. For knee replacement operations, patients are generally allowed home after two to three days and three to five for hip operations.

Surgeons and physiotherapists have used the technique on between 300 and 400 patients at the Golden Jubilee Hospital. A further comparative trial using about 150 patients is to start soon After touring the hospital yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said: "From what I have seen, the benefits are enormous from the patient's point of view. I have seen people who had an operation yesterday and they are up on their feet today. That is tremendous.

"It has still to be evaluated in tests. However, I would like to see it extended."