UK’s first Older People’s Emergency Department to be introduced at NNUH
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has announced innovative plans to transform the way it delivers emergency care by introducing the UK’s first Emergency Department that is entirely dedicated to patients over the age of 80. As well as a new Older People’s Emergency Department (OPED), NNUH will also be relocating the Paediatric Emergency Department and tripling its size to improve the experience of its youngest patients.
This significant expansion, as well as other improvements to the main Emergency Department, will be completed at the end of November, with further work planned for early in the New Year.
Over the last year, there have been many changes to the care available for older patients at NNUH. Older People’s Ambulatory Care (OPAC) allows many older patients admitted as an emergency to receive a comprehensive assessment and be discharged much earlier than previously. A second new service, the Older People’s Assessment Service (OPAS) now allows GPs direct access to a booked appointment with a specialist geriatrician within 48 hours of referral. This replaces the traditional outpatient clinic appointment, as well as the traditional long wait for that to happen. Now, when a patient over 80 years old arrives at the NNUH emergency department, they will go straight to OPED, where there will be a multi-disciplinary team consisting of Emergency Department Consultants, Consultant Geriatricians, Emergency and Older People’s Medicine Nurses waiting to provide care for them. Patients who require a longer admission will still then be admitted directly to one of the specialist older people’s wards. But for other patients, these new services should have a significant impact.
The ultimate aim of these projects is to ensure that all patients can receive the “gold standard” of care as quickly as possible: a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) within 48 hours of referral or immediately on presentation at the NNUH. CGAs have been shown to identify an older person’s risk of frailty by assessing their medical conditions, mental health, level of independence and social circumstances, saving time for the patient, improving their immediate care and preventing problems for the future.
A reduction in the number of older people admitted to hospital over the last year, as well as the reduction in the length of stay for patients have both paved the way for these developments in Emergency Department to take place.
Dr Martyn Patel, NNUH Consultant for Older People’s Medicine said: “Norfolk is home to one of the largest populations of older people in country, which is continuing to grow at a fast rate. This means we’ve got to do something that no-one else has done before in the UK, to ensure our older patients are able to receive the best care most appropriate to their needs in a timely manner.”
In addition to the introduction of OPED, the expansion of the Paediatric Emergency Department means an increase in the amount of treatment areas from three to nine by Christmas, with space available to expand this to 15 early in 2018. Dr Jane Evans, NNUH Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine explains how beneficial this expansion is for both our patients and for the Trust: “This is an exciting development for NNUH and our young Norfolk patients. This expansion means we will have the capacity to see more patients and enhance the specialist care they receive.”
Dr Frankie Swords, Chief of Division for Medicine at NNUH said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce these improvements for our youngest and oldest patients in time for the winter. For older patients, we know that the earlier we can assess a patient, the quicker we can get them back to full health, regain their independence and avoid hospital admission. This is great news for our hospital, our patients and our staff.”
Mark Davies, NNUH Chief Executive said: “As a trust, we are committed to providing the best possible care for our patients, and developing the Older People’s Emergency Department and expanding our Paediatric Emergency Department both show how we are always looking at new and innovative ways to do so. This is a massive step forward in enhancing emergency care for our patients and I’d like to thank all those teams involved in the development.”