£15m acute medical unit welcomes first patients at Russells Hall Hospital

A £15.6 million medical unit has opened at Russells Hall Hospital to help ease pressure on A&E services.

Staff outside the acute medical unit at Russells Hall which is now open
Staff outside the acute medical unit at Russells Hall which is now open

The two-storey Rainbow Unit has been built next to the emergency department at the Dudley hospital.

It has now been opened to patients, including those referred by their GP or brought by ambulance, to avoid unnecessary attendances at the emergency department.

Patients will be seen, treated and sent home or transferred to the first-floor short-stay ward. If needed, they will be transferred to the main hospital.

It comes after West Midlands Ambulance Service told how delays in handovers at hospitals across the region were among the worst in the service’s history.

Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Diane Wake said: “Our clinical teams will be able to work much better in this facility and we will be able to do things, such as speeding up ambulance hand overs.”

Douglas Woods was the first patient in the unit

It was all hands on deck as doctors, nurses and ancillary teams organised new arrivals into the newly opened bays on Wednesday.

The ground-floor assessment unit has 22 spaces plus eight monitored beds for the most poorly while first floor has a short-stay ward with 30 beds.

Among the first to be wheeled into the new block was retired postman Douglas Woods, aged 72.

Mr Woods, of Cradley Heath, said: “The staff here have been looking after me. I am feeling feel a bit better since I was brought into the hospital. I was a postman from 19 years and a housing officer in Halesowen before that.”

He will be given an assessment on the unit and a care plan will be devised for him.

Laura Holdsworth in the new pharmacy

The trust’s deputy clinical director for acute and urgent care Mr Murali Veerabahu said: “This new unit means our teams be able to work collaboratively as we won’t need to be running from the far end of the hospital where the old acute medical unit was, to ge to the emergency department. Everything is now better connected. We can get to patients earlier and provide specialist care when needed.”

Rainbow Unit matron Debra Vasey said: “We were involved from the design stages when the plans were being drawn up for the building. We wanted to make sure we’d got the right patient facilities.”

The unit has wide corridors, patient bay facilities including code-locked bedside cabinets for medication and personal belongings. Pharmacy supplies can only be accessed using fingerprint technology instead of traditional keys.

The trust's chief operating officer Karen Kelly in a specialist are for patients with mental health issues

It is being staffed by 140 nurses plus doctors, domiciliary and administration teams. The building was developed with the help of £3m in Government funding.

Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Diane Wake said: “This is the biggest investment for the trust since the development of Russells Hall Hospital in the early 2000s.”

While the unit is set up, visiting has temporarily been suspended to the acute medical unit and to Ward A2. Visitors will be allowed into the ward again from 9am Thursday and to the new unit from 9am on Friday.

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