Life at NNUH – the Emergency Department
There’s no such thing as a typical day in the NNUH Emergency Department.
With a patient arriving on average every four minutes, every shift in ED is busy and demand can turn on a sixpence with staff prioritising care for the most poorly patients and working hard to treat all patients in a timely way.
Around 400 patients attend the Emergency Department every day and NNUH is the busiest in the region of emergency ambulance arrivals.
But what is it like to be in Team ED? In the first of our Life at NNUH feature series, we spoke to staff across the department who all highlighted the great teamwork in ED and the supportive working environment.
One of the appeals for ED staff is helping patients with a broad range of conditions and they can work within a number of different parts of the department, including the rapid assessment and treatment unit, resuscitation room, majors and minors.
Danielle Curtis is a Senior Healthcare Assistant who has worked in ED for the last two and a half years. She said that working in ED is very rewarding and the team in the department are very supportive.
“It is so fast paced every day and it is different. You are constantly busy and you do not know what is coming through the front door. I love the job and I am naturally a caring person. When a patient says thank you and appreciate what you do, that is really rewarding. You can only do your job well and make sure the patient experience is the best they can have,” she said.
Since the Emergency Department opened in 2002, attendances have gone from 65,000 a year to more than 150,000.
Dr Shaun Price, ED Consultant, who has been an emergency doctor for the last four years, says working in the Emergency Department suits clinicians who like working at a fast pace.
“There is no boredom here. I have worked on wards before but that does not fit my skill set best. To work in ED you have to be able to adapt to rapid change and make pragmatic decisions under pressure.
“I get a lot of opportunity to teach in this role. You get a lot of variety in the work and I get to do the same as I did when I was junior doctor in terms of diagnosing and treating patients,” he said.
In the last two years, the Emergency Department has expanded with the development of the country’s first Older People’s Emergency Department (OPED) and an expanded Children’s ED.
Shoby Sebastian, who is a Deputy Sister on OPED, said she loves working at NNUH because of the learning opportunities available and helping to make a difference to the older generation.
“When a patient comes in an emergency, we provide the best care and seeing that patient been discharged home safely brings such happiness and it’s the best reward that I can achieve as a nurse.
“Caring for the older generation is always my passion as I miss caring for my own parents and grandparents. So when I care for a patient I see my own parents instead. I come to work with a smile and give my 100% when I am here.”
Emma Wolton, Children’s emergency nurse, joined the Children’s ED last year. She added: “The team is great and has really good leadership. The Children’s ED is quite a new department and it is developing and is a really nice place to work. It is nice when children are happy and are leaving with a smile on their face and them coming to ED is not a bad experience for them.”
The team in ED is proud to have championed the role of Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACP) who are healthcare professionals who come from a range of professional backgrounds such as nursing, pharmacy, paramedics and occupational therapy.
Matt Jenkins joined the Trust as a nurse in 2012 and has been an ACP for two years.
“I like the variety that the Emergency Department covers, which includes majors, minors, and resus. You don’t know what is going to come through the door and every day is always different. I like working with a really good team and meetings lots of people day in day out.”
Dr Afzal Alam, a Junior Clinical Fellow, started working in ED last September after studying to become a doctor in Saudi Arabia.
What were his initial impressions of coming to Norwich?
“Initially I was worried about being so far from London. It has been so supportive and all staff have been so nice from day one. We have very good consultants supporting the Emergency Department who are always on the floor and we have 24 hour Consultant support.”
Another new member of the team is Lydia Dahl who started in September as a newly qualified nurse. Her passion for emergency care started following a student nursing placement in ED when she was studying at the UEA.
“I love the people and the team in ED and the different people you meet every day. I love caring for patients at a critical and vulnerable time in their lives and making that process for them as comfortable as possible.”
Max Rudd, who has been an ED receptionist since June 2019, added: “I like the flexibility with the working hours and everyone looks after each other here. There is a strong element of helping others, which I really enjoy. Tensions can sometimes run high for patients or family members and my job is to help reassure them and put them at ease.”