New KGH unit helps 10,000 patients

ACU Matron Corinne Harris, Staff Nurse Grace Dodd and patient Robert Drain from Corby at the Kettering Hospital Ambulatory Care Unit
ACU Matron Corinne Harris, Staff Nurse Grace Dodd and patient Robert Drain from Corby at the Kettering Hospital Ambulatory Care Unit

The team behind an award-winning care unit at Kettering General Hospital are celebrating a successful first year in which they have seen almost 10,000 patients.

The Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU) was set up in June last year in a bid to reduce the pressure on the hospital’s A&E department.

A&E Ambulatory Care Unit Matron Corinne Harris with patient Carol Westrop

A&E Ambulatory Care Unit Matron Corinne Harris with patient Carol Westrop

At the time, Kettering Hospital was one of the worst performing acute hospitals in the country for admitting, or discharging, patients within four hours of their arrival – achieving 74 per cent against the national target of 95 per cent.

However, the ACU has helped the hospital beat that target, achieving 99 per cent and turning Kettering Hospital from one of the worst performing, to one of the best in less than 12 months.

The hospital’s chief operating officer Alan Gurney said the success of the unit in its first year meant its remit had already been expanded.

He added: “Originally, the unit was only open between Monday and Friday, but now it is open seven days a week and the length of time it is open for has been expanded. This was not part of a national scheme, but it has emerged as a front-runner in its field and the hard work has been recognised with national awards.”

Eco Office Waste and Sustainability Manager Robin Packman in the Eco Office at Kettering General Hospital

Eco Office Waste and Sustainability Manager Robin Packman in the Eco Office at Kettering General Hospital

Mr Gurney said he would like to see the responsibilities of the unit expand in the future.

He added: “The unit is working very well and I think there is even more it can do.

“There are other patients we can draw through there, such as those who might need a minor operation which isn’t necessarily an emergency.

“This is a completely different model of emergency care than what we have seen before.”

Eco Office Craig Catterick Deputy Head of Facilities and Estates with some of the Eco Office items

Eco Office Craig Catterick Deputy Head of Facilities and Estates with some of the Eco Office items

Patients are referred to the ACU by either A&E or their GP. Simple tests and procedures can be carried out there, meaning patients may have been seen and are ready to go home within four to six hours rather than facing a long wait in A&E.

ACU matron Corinne Harris, said: “The advantage of the unit is that if a patient comes to us at 9am, for example, we can carry out tests and then arrange to see them in the afternoon and they are free to go home in the meantime. “It means they are through the hospital more quickly and there is less waiting around. Patients are seen by a consultant. The feedback we are getting is very good. One person said it is like having private care in the NHS.”

Eco office first of its kind

An office decked out in environmentally-friendly furniture at Kettering General Hospital is thought to be the first of its kind in the NHS.

The new office is the brainchild of the hospital’s waste and sustainability manager, Robin Packman.

It is filled with furniture which has been made from old materials.

The new desks are made from recycled paper and card and are coated so they can be drawn on and used as impromptu whiteboards, floor tiles are made from recycled carpet threads and discarded fishing nets, the office chairs are made from recycled plastic and textiles and the waste paper bins are made from recycled cardboard and the blinds from recycled plastic bottles.

Mr Packman said: “This office is part of a vision that we have for Kettering Hospital and eventually across the NHS.

“The idea is to make the NHS as green as possible and the aim would be to have offices like this one across the hospital.”

The furniture and fittings are currently sourced from a Hampshire-based firm called Flute and Mr Packman said any damaged furniture can be sent back to them, recycled and quickly sent back to the hospital.

He added: “The cost is similar to our regular office furniture at the moment. However, the more we order means costs can be reduced, which will save money.”

At present, Flute is not collecting waste from Kettering Hospital, but Mr Packman said the vision is to have Flute recycle materials from Kettering General Hospital so that, in theory, the hospital is getting its own waste back in the form of furniture.

Mr Packman said: “We are in the early stages but we are looking to start sending some of our waste to Flute in the next six months.

“Flute told us they have had conversations with other NHS sites, but Kettering Hospital is the first to have an office like this one.”