New unit helps reduce waiting

A NEW unit is helping improve patient experience and reduce the number of people unnecessarily admitted to hospital.

The ‘ambulatory’ care units, which opened at North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals earlier this year, mean patients who previously would have been admitted to hospital are treated more quickly as day cases instead.

Around 500 patients a month are using the facilities after being referred via A&E or directly by their GP for treatment, many avoiding an unnecessary hospital admission.

The new service means patients can be triaged and treated faster with GPs able to refer directly onto the unit, without any unnecessary delays or overnight stays.

Maria Towart, nurse practitioner on the new unit at Wansbeck General Hospital, said: “Nobody wants to stay overnight in hospital if they don’t need to and ambulatory care is all about shaping our services around the needs of patients, making things more convenient for them and, as a consequence, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions.

“The types of patients we see on the unit are often anaemic and require blood transfusions, people with mild chest pains who require quick assessment and many patients who need intravenous antibiotics for things like Cellulitis which is a very common skin infection.

“All of these things would previously have required a full admission to a hospital ward where patients have to wait to be assessed by a doctor before beginning treatment and usually end up staying as an inpatient.

“Now we have patients popping to see us every morning and night during the course their intravenous antibiotics which means they can stay at home during treatment and in the comfort of their own bed at night.”

Both care units are open seven days a week, with nurses, doctors and consultants available to care for patients who arrive or are booked in for treatment.