A new £500,000 unit with 20 new staff designed to help ease pressure on the congested A&E department at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital will open on September 2, it was revealed today.
The Clinical Decisions Unit (CDU) will house patients who are waiting for results – such as blood tests – on relatively minor problems.
New staff have been hired for the unit with around 20 doctors, nurses, radiographers, radiologists, cleaners and admin staff set to run CDU.
That will free up space in the main A&E unit, as well as in corridors, where people are treated if the ward is full – as patients will not be waiting in cubicles for their results.
CDU will be staffed by clinicians and nurses and will still be supervised by specialist A&E consultants.
It precedes nine new beds being added to the unit in November in a £2.5million extension – another move designed to help issues with capacity.
And in two years’ time a brand new £31m A&E unit will be unveiled at New Cross.
Until then, though, the department remains at breaking point, having seen record patient numbers come through the doors in the past year.
Gwen Nuttall, chief operating officer at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said the new CDU would be a ‘significant help’ in their fight to ease congestion in A&E.
“It will certainly improve flow within the department and, therefore, we should have more capacity,” she said. “People will also get their results quicker.”
It is thought patients who do not require full admission to A&E but who would probably need to be in the hospital for more than four hours will take up the majority of CDU work.
Patients awaiting tests results for chest pain, patients with allergic reactions, mild asthma attacks, some head injuries and those requiring post-sedation monitoring – i.e. after a dislocation – will also use CDU.
After picking up their results the patients will, in theory, be able to leave, although if the results show up anything adnormal then they could be referred elsewhere. Ms Nuttall added: “The benefit is freeing up space so people can move on from the cubicles. It will also reduce the amount of patients who are waiting in corridors.”
The hospital endured its busiest-ever month in A&E in July when 10,018 patients come through its doors, an average of 323 a day.
Chief executive David Loughton labelled New Cross’s A&E as ‘unfit for purpose’ earlier this year. It has come under increasing pressure for several reasons including an ageing population and a lack of GPs’ out-of-hours services.
Survey results last month put New Cross bottom of the pile in a league of patient satisfaction in A&E units in the Black Country and Staffordshire.
In the Friends and Family Test patients were simply asked if they would recommend the unit they were just treated in to a relative or friend.
It was recently announced that the NHS is to be given a £500m boost for A&E departments in an attempt to keep waiting times under control.