Patients benefit from better emergency care thanks to new, innovative improvements in Haywards Heath

Patients are being seen more quickly and safely thanks to innovative changes to how emergency care patients are treated at Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath.
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From piloting an urgent treatment centre, introducing a rapid assessment and treatment service and launching a new Ambulatory Clinical Decision Unit (ACDU), the team are keeping the emergency department flowing smoother and allowing medical teams to focus on the sickest patients.

Salwa Malik is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Clinical Lead for the emergency department at Princess Royal Hospital.

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She said: “The team have worked incredibly hard and met each project head on with enthusiasm and determination to improve patient safety and keep flow going. We are proud of every new step we have introduced to make us more efficient.”

Princess Royal Hospital A&E TeamPrincess Royal Hospital A&E Team
Princess Royal Hospital A&E Team

To help ensure patients are transferred from ambulances as quickly as possible, a dedicated Rapid Assessment and Treatment team monitor and track individual ambulances via a screen.

They can see information about each patient such as age, sex, injuries and treatment given or needed, to quickly assess and treat the patient as soon as they arrive at the hospital.

Once a patient arrives at the front door, the Rapid Assessment and Treatment team takeover, the ambulance can leave, and the patient is then moved to the main emergency department.

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This speeds up ambulance handover times and is particularly useful if the team need to prepare for a sudden surge of patients. This new way of working helped Princess Royal Hospital be ranked ninth in the country at the end of 2023 for the quickest ambulance turnaround times.

A new scoring system in the emergency department can assess the needs of patients and identify the best place for them to be cared for. This helps ensure beds are used for the sickest patients, while other patients can be treated and monitored in the new ACDU.

The ACDU is a short stay unit for patients that need more clinical care but do not need to be admitted to hospital. Since its launch in March 2023, it has seen more than 11,000 patients.

Due to these innovations, the Emergency Department has been awarded £10,000 by the National Institute for Health Care and Research to further explore the potential of their new scoring system and how it is supporting the success of the ADCU.

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Also playing an important role in reducing waiting times across the whole emergency department, is the new Urgent Treatment Centre for patients who come to A&E and don’t need life-saving treatment.

Since its pilot in October 2023, this GP led unit has allowed patients to be seen more quickly and get the appropriate care they need.

The team are now sharing their learnings with emergency colleagues from across the Trust and continuing to work tirelessly to seek out new ways to continue improving patient care.

Salwa Malik added: “I hope that by collaborating with the other EDs within the Trust, we can continue to support each other with new innovations and strategies to improve patient care and safety within the Emergency Departments.”

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