Patients needing urgent healthcare this winter may find themselves referred to a new service at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, which aims to see the majority of patients assessed, treated and home again on the same day.
Opening Monday 10 December, the Ambulatory Care and Triage Service will be based in the same building as the Urgent Care Centre, which has now been connected to the main building.
As an expansion of the former Ambulatory Care Service, the new Ambulatory Care and Triage Service has five more treatment rooms and a dedicated triage service, meaning they can see more patients assessed, treated and back home on the same day.
Patients are usually referred by local GPs for needing urgent care and present with a range of conditions, with common conditions including severe infections, deep vein thrombosis and chronic pain.
The service, which is open 8am until 10pm and currently sees around 40 patients a day, is already a huge success in getting patients home the same day, so they don’t need to stay overnight on a ward. Of the 9,600 patients the team saw in 2017/18, 11 per cent were transferred to a hospital bed for further care.
The addition of a new triage service means patients will now be able to have their initial assessments sooner, meaning decisions can be made more quickly, treatment can start sooner and the possibility of going home on the same day is more likely.
As a knock-on effect, the Ambulatory Care and Triage service should leave more beds available in other areas of the hospital for patients who need to be admitted for an overnight stay.
Having all the Trust’s urgent and emergency teams in closer proximity with an adjoining internal corridor will make it easier for staff to work more closely and patients moved more quickly to the right area.
Neal Aplin, Advanced Clinical Practitioner, in the Ambulatory Care and Triage Service, said: “This is a great service as it means a much better experience for our patients, there is less waiting and they can begin treatment sooner. It’s also exciting for staff as they see the positive difference they are making and aren’t faced with as many delays which can be frustrating.
“Although winter doesn’t necessarily mean more patients, with colder weather and viruses such as flu in the mix, it certainly means we see a higher volume of sicker patients with more complex needs. I’m confident this new service will help us to provide better care to these patients this winter.”
The Urgent Care Centre, which is for people needing urgent medical attention, which is not life-threatening, will also be expanding from six clinical rooms to 10. Currently around 70 patients a day visit the centre, which is open from 7am to midnight, 365 days a year and anyone can walk in without an appointment or be referred by NHS 111 or a GP. In a similar process to the Emergency Department, the team see patients in order of medical urgency, rather than arrival.
Nerissa Vaughan, Chief Executive, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “A huge amount of planning has taken place with the whole health and social care system – general practice, community and hospital services and social care – working together to ensure local people receive the best possible care this winter and urgent and ambulatory care is just one of the areas we have been expanding in preparation for the colder months.
“This winter NHS staff in Swindon will be focusing on ensuring patients can leave hospital as soon as they’re well enough, getting more patients assessed, treated and back home on the same day, with services like the new Ambulatory Care and Triage service, and providing more care in the community and at home.”
Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides hospital services in the Great Western Hospital and community healthcare services across Swindon and in people’s own homes.