A&E changes leading to shorter waiting

The region's busiest casualty department is gearing up to treat patients even more quickly with a raft of changes that are bringing down waiting times and are designed to continue the trend.

Last year, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's Accident and Emergency (A&E) unit treated a total of 61,272 patients. The majority of patients (73 per cent) using the Norwich-based emergency service have minor injuries or illnesses and the upcoming changes are designed to better deal with patients with more minor ailments.

The A&E department recently recruited a total of five new A&E middle grade doctors, meaning there are always two A&E doctors on duty during the night, one of whom is more experienced. Since the beginning of February, the department has increased the percentage of people waiting less than four hours for either admission or discharge following emergency treatment up to an average of 91.25 per cent. The Government target for this year is 90 per cent.  The percentage of people discharged within 4 hours who do not require admission to hospital is over 98 per cent.

Building work, costing £60,000 and lasting around four weeks, is also due to start in the A&E department this month and will see the construction of new cubicles for what is known as a “See and Treat” service for patients with minor injuries and illnesses.

Under traditional triage systems, people with more minor ailments tend to wait longer as the emergency team deals with the more seriously ill first. See and treat involves an emergency nurse practitioner and a doctor dedicated to just dealing with minor cases on a see and treat basis that involves less waiting for patients.

The new See and Treat service will be located in the A&E reception area and will leave the rest of the A&E team free to deal with the more serious cases; classed as intermediate; major and resuscitation, behind the scenes.     

The department is also benefiting from £10,000 of investment from the Department of Health. The money is being spent on improvements identified by A&E patients themselves in recent surveys, including:

  • A plasma screen displaying the latest waiting time information, information about how the A&E unit works, and television news channels.
  • New more comfortable waiting room chairs
  • New storage facilities for the bereavement room plus a coffee table, uplighters, cushions, electric air purifier, and new bereavement leaflets
  • A new entertainment system to help distract children undergoing treatment
  • A fridge for patients to store items

Senior nurse manager Mandy Lees said: “A&E staff have been working incredibly hard to reduce waiting times and a lot of effort has gone into nursing staff developing new skills to become Emergency Nurse Practitioners or Minor Injury Nurse Treatment specialists to improve the service to our patients.

A&E lead clinician Mr Bruce Finlayson said: “There is no doubt our staff are working very hard as we cope with a large rise in emergencies and they deserve all our thanks. I'm very proud of the way our staff have responded to the surge in emergencies and these improvements are all part and parcel of our efforts to continue improving.”

*Number of A&E patients treated in 2002/03:

  • NNUH – 61,272
  • Addenbrooke's – 59,208
  • Ipswich –  54,449

Media contacts: Andrew Stronach or Hayley Gerrard at NNUH on 01603 287200.

Tuesday 2nd of March 2004 11:00:44 AM