The introduction of a new Emergency Floor at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle is set to improve care for emergency patients from across West, North & East Cumbria.
The new Emergency Floor is made up of a Medical Emergency Assessment Unit, a Surgical Emergency Assessment unit and an Ambulatory Care unit. Locating these services together is increasingly recognised as the ‘gold standard’ for emergency care with evidence of better outcomes for patients. It is also anticipated that the move will reduce the number of patients waiting in the Accident & Emergency department, something which is particularly beneficial as we approach the winter months ahead.
The changes in surgery mean that the Consultant Surgeon of the week is now personally fielding all GP referrals from 8.00am-8.00pm on a dedicated phone line, offering immediate expert advice and avoiding the patient’s admission to hospital if it is not required. If a patient does need to come into hospital, they will not have to wait in A&E – instead they will be seen directly on the new Emergency Surgical Unit, giving them quicker access to a senior clinician who can make a decision about what treatment they require. Patients who transfer from West Cumbria for emergency surgery will also benefit from the changes at the Cumberland Infirmary as they will be transferred directly into the new Surgical Unit to see a consultant who will be expecting their arrival, there will be no need for those patients to go through Carlisle’s A&E department.
Mr Daya Karat, clinical director for emergency surgery at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The proactive changes we are making for our emergency surgical patients have been very much clinically led and aimed at standardising and improving their care. We will be providing the fullest team to promptly assess and treat all patients with general surgical emergencies from across the county.”
Although an Emergency Assessment Unit for medical patients already exists in the Cumberland Infirmary, there will also be a series of additional benefits on the new Emergency Floor. The redesign means that a relatives’ room, waiting room and psychiatric assessment room will be provided as well as a larger area for Ambulatory Care for patients who require emergency treatment without being admitted to a hospital bed.
The new Emergency Floor has meant some other inpatient wards have been relocating over the past two weeks. This is also leading to benefits for those wards including the introduction of a quiet room to allow patients and relatives to have sensitive discussions with clinicians on the oncology ward.
Dr Jim Shawcross, consultant physician at the Trust, said: “The new co-location of emergency medical and surgical assessment means better working together which is of benefit to both the clinical staff and patients. Some patients require both medical and surgical assessment therefore they will have access to consultants from both disciplines in the one place. Clinicians will also have opportunities for shared learning and development. I very much hope and expect to see patient outcomes and feedback improve as a result of the changes we are making.”