Kettering Hospital has received a national award for the way its Ambulatory Care Unit has contributed to improved performance in accident and emergency.
In April 2013 the hospital was one of the worse performing acute hospitals in England for its A&E performance, achieving 74.2 per cent against the national target of admitting, or discharging, 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours of arrival in the department.
But now – following the introduction of the Ambulatory Care Unit and a series of other emergency care improvements around discharge and patient flow – it is one of the top performing acute Trusts in England.
The hospital achieved 99 per cent against the 95 per cent target in April which is set to be the best performance for a hospital Trust of its kind in that month.
Kettering General Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, Alan Gurney, said: “I think it is fantastic that the national Ambulatory Emergency Care Delivery Network has presented the hospital’s Ambulatory Care Team with this award.
“All credit to the hard working and dedicated staff in the unit who have turned the Ambulatory Care Unit from an idea into a high performing reality in a very short space of time.
“While we have carried out a number of initiatives over the last year which together have improved our A&E performance (see editor’s notes) Ambulatory Care has been a very important one of them.
“Since June 2013 the Ambulatory Care Unit has seen more than 8,000 patients. Its use has increased from 60 patients a week to more than 200 per week now.
“These are all patients who would probably otherwise have been seen in our busy A&E department or been admitted to a hospital bed – when maybe all they really needed was a short spell of specialist attention.”
The Trust opened its Ambulatory Care Unit in June last year with eight chairs or trolleys and four consultation rooms.
It has its own consultant, advanced clinical nurse practitioner and 15 staff.
Since January it has been open seven days per week.
The A&E department, wards and local GPs can all directly refer into the unit.
Ambulatory Care Unit lead nurse Helen Fawdon said: “Patients have given us some very positive comments about the unit.
“It is a quiet environment and we are very flexible in how we arrange to see patients, which they really like.
“They may come here straight from A&E or a GP for tests and be seen very quickly – usually everything is done on the same day.
“We also arrange to carry out a series of common procedures within the unit – including things like drains, blood transfusions and other simple interventions.”
Ambulatory Care Unit Matron Corinne Harris said: “We make arrangements for patients to come in for their tests or procedures and then go straight home again.
“Some of these procedures would previously have involved stays of up to a week in hospital so for patients it is a big improvement.”