A hospital unit aimed at reducing waiting times and overnight hospital admissions has treated more than 15,000 patients in its first year.
The Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) Unit at King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton-in-Ashfield, provides high-quality diagnostic tests, treatment and care that would previously have required a short hospital admission or been managed within the hospital’s already busy Emergency Department (ED).
Since opening in June 2021, Sherwood Forest Hospitals’ £2million purpose-built unit has helped patients to access the treatment they need in as timely a way as possible and helped ensure that other beds are available for those who need them most. Just 10% of patients who are seen on the unit go on to need an overnight stay.
The Trust’s Acute Medicine Service, which runs the unit, has also been acknowledged as a national example of best practice by Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) – a national programme designed to improve the treatment and care of patients by sharing best practice among NHS organisations.
Dan Exell, Lead Nurse on the unit at King’s Mill Hospital, said: “It’s important to realise that hospital isn’t always the best place for every patient to recover from their illness. For example, some patients with dementia who are used to a very specific routine, environment and their recognised carers can potentially become quite unsettled or disorientated by any changes to these factors. Most patients prefer to be in their own environment if possible and this can really help to aid their recovery.
“Rather than being admitted to hospital, if patients require further treatment but are well enough in themselves, they can now receive their treatment at the unit and then go home to recover in their own home. This is a much better option for them and frees up beds for our sickest patients.”
The unit, which includes 25 treatment spaces and five examination rooms, offers a calm, relaxing environment. During peak hours, it is staffed by a team of 15 with skills across a range of disciplines, consisting of nurses, doctors, and healthcare assistants.
Mansfield resident Michaela Carlyle, 28, has experienced the benefits of SDEC first-hand. She was recently referred to the unit for daily treatment for the skin condition cellulitis after her body reacted badly to a tattoo, and again to receive antibiotics for an infected ant bite. After experiencing a hospital admission in the past due to cellulitis, Michaela much prefers to be treated on SDEC.
She said: “I would highly recommend attending SDEC over being admitted to hospital. The staff are lovely, making you feel comfortable and welcomed. I’m never left alone and there is always someone around to answer any questions. It’s great because it means I’m not sitting around waiting for my next round of treatment when I could otherwise be recovering at home.”
Fran Steele, Director of Strategic Transformation, NHS England in the Midlands said: “We know how hard NHS and care colleagues across the Midlands are continuing to work to recover from the impact of the pandemic. The Same Day Emergency Care Unit at Sherwood Forest Hospitals is a great example of how Trusts are innovating to deliver timely care for patients and striving to avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital.”
Common conditions treated on the unit are cellulitis, low risk cardiac chest pain, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, heart failure, hypertension, headache and atrial fibrillation.
The unit carries out observations, diagnostic tests, blood tests, X-rays, cannulas, echocardiograms, injections, wound care, ultrasound scans, test results and consultations.
Open from 7am to midnight, patients can be referred to the unit by the hospital’s Emergency Department, their GP, a hospital ward, outpatient clinic, primary care or other healthcare provider.
Dan continued: “Colleagues love working in our new unit – it’s bright, airy and specifically designed to help us provide the service that we do. They see the benefits of the SDEC unit for our patients and enjoy looking after them.”