Dr Michael Chilvers, medical director at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, talks about the demand for emergency and urgent healthcare and what the Trust is doing to keep waiting times to a minimum.
I know you’ll have seen pictures of ambulances waiting outside emergency departments across the country and have heard about long waits in hospitals. It’s natural to worry about news of this kind, especially when you or a loved one have had an injury or are not feeling well, and we appreciate the anxiety this can cause.
I want to tell you a little bit about what we’re doing to help make sure we’re quickly treating people who need our care the most and helping to get ambulances back on the road. Every ambulance here at the hospital is one fewer available for another person in our community who is badly injured or very unwell, so we are absolutely focused on minimising waiting times and ensuring patients get the care they need as quickly as possible.
When patients arrive at our emergency department, we assess and treat everyone in order of clinical priority – ensuring that people who are sicker can get help fastest.
Our new ambulance handover unit at Lister means we can safely care for people who arrive by ambulance and are stable, but still need to be seen in the emergency department. And it means that we can let that ambulance leave the hospital more quickly to take another call.
We’ve also expanded what’s called our “same day emergency care unit”, which provides rapid assessment and treatment for people who have long term conditions which might flare up – whilst these people need urgent care, they can be seen straight away by the right specialists and don’t need to wait in A&E. For example, if you are experiencing a flare up of Crohn’s disease, or you are having a reaction to your heart medication, we can assess and treat you and then send you home, all within a few hours.
If you or a loved one needs to be admitted to the hospital, we will work with you to help get you home earlier and we’ll discuss and agree this with you when you’re admitted so that you have a clear idea of how long to expect to be here for. We know most people prefer to go home as early as possible and that they often get better more quickly at home than in hospital. So you might hear us talk about Hospital at Home, where you’ll be monitored remotely using sensors and will sometimes be given treatment such as intravenous antibiotics – all still under the care of the NHS. And of course we continue to work closely with social care to make sure that help is in place for people who are well enough to go home but need some extra support.
By working together, we can all help make sure that emergency and urgent care services are there for everyone who needs them.