The pressure on Kettering Hospital’s accident and emergency department has been relieved with the opening of a new unit.
The £250,000 observation unit at the site in Rothwell Road has seven beds and can take around 14 patients in every 24-hour period.
It is designed for patients who are waiting for test results or need observation and means they do not have to wait in the busy A&E department.
This also frees up beds for patients most in need of them and helps bosses meet the four-hour wait target for casualty patients.
The ward has been built in an old ambulatory care unit and will take patients suffering from afflictions including minor head injuries, allergic reactions, people who have overdosed or those in need of mental health assessment,
Hospital Chief Operating Officer Jon Scott said: “This is a place for people who are not quite ready to go home yet.
“This is not just about hitting the A&E target, it’s about improving patient care.
“This is a much better environment for patients to wait in, and it gives us more space in A&E to see other patients.”
Lead nurse for emergency care Mandy Blackman said: “About 70 per cent of people who come to A&E are discharged following some treatment or advice, and the remaining 30 per cent are admitted to a hospital bed.
“But within those figures we also have patients who don’t need to stay in A&E but do need further observation or test before they can be safely discharged - and that’s where our new observation unit comes in.
“Previously borderline patents would have waited, sometimes for hours, in a busy A&E environment for their results to come through or to be observed and given the all clear to go home.”
Retired shoe industry worker Robert Hawkins, 76, from Talbot Road, Rushden, was one of the first patients to be admitted to the new ward after hurting his leg.
He said: “I like the new ward. It’s really nice.
“They don’t half look after you here. I’m just waiting for the all-clear to go home but I am very grateful to the staff here.”