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Faster ‘ambulatory’ treatment for hundreds of Northumbria patients

Friday, 11 July, 2014
Faster ‘ambulatory’ treatment for hundreds of Northumbria patients

New ‘ambulatory’ care units at North Tyneside General Hospital and Wansbeck General Hospital are helping to improve patient experience and significantly reduce the number of people who are unnecessarily admitted to hospital.

The brand new facilities, which opened in North Tyneside and Wansbeck earlier this year, mean patients who would have previously been admitted to hospital are instead treated more quickly as day cases.

Around 500 patients a month are now using ambulatory care after being referred via A&E or directly by their GP for treatment – many of whom have avoided an unnecessary admission to hospital.  The new service means that patients can be triaged and treated much faster with GPs able to refer directly onto the unit, without any unnecessary delays or overnight stays.

67 year old Nancy Robson of Bedlington, Northumberland has recently benefited from the new patient centred service.  Nancy has Bronchiectasis, a long term lung condition which affects the airways of the lungs, making them more vulnerable to infection. 

Nancy needed a course of intravenous antibiotics to clear up her latest infection and attended the ambulatory care unit in Wansbeck every three days to get her cannula changed by specialist nurses.  Previously any course of intravenous antibiotics would have required a two to three week inpatient stay.

Nancy said: “The care I have received on the unit has been truly first class and it fits around me and my life – rather than the other way round.  Being able to come and go and have my treatment quickly means I am not stuck in a hospital bed when I don’t need to be. 

“The nurses are fantastic and they have even trained my husband so that he can safely administer my antibiotics which means I only have to go back every three days – instead of every day.

“Because of my condition I am very prone to infections and usually get ill at least twice a year.  Previously I would have had to stay in hospital for weeks on end until my course of antibiotic treatment was complete but thanks to ambulatory care, I can fit my treatment in around my normal daily life.

Maria Towart, Nurse Practitioner on the new ambulatory care unit at Wansbeck General Hospital, explains:

“Nobody really wants to stay overnight in hospital if they don’t need to and ambulatory care is all about shaping our services around the needs of patients, making things more convenient for them and, as a consequence, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions. 

“The types of patients we see on the unit are often anaemic and require blood transfusions, people with mild chest pains who require quick assessment and many patients who need intravenous antibiotics for things like Cellulitis which is a very common skin infection.

“All of these things would previously have required a full admission to a hospital ward where patients have to wait to be assessed by a doctor before beginning treatment and usually end up staying as an inpatient.

“Now we have patients popping to see us every morning and night during the course their intravenous antibiotics which means they can stay at home during treatment and in the comfort of their own bed at night.”

Both ambulatory care units are open seven days a week, with nurses, doctors and consultants available to care for patients who arrive or are booked in for treatment.

Information for patients about ambulatory care:

What is ambulatory care?

The word ‘ambulatory’ is used to describe patients who can walk, are able to move and are not bedridden.  ‘Ambulatory care’ describes how we care for these patients who don’t need to be admitted as an inpatient but instead can be looked after as an outpatient and go home the same day. 

What times are our ambulatory care units open?

Wansbeck General Hospital – Monday to Friday 8am until 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am until 4pm
North Tyneside General Hospital – Monday to Friday – 8am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday – 8am to 3pm

Who decides if I need ambulatory care?

Patients who attend our ambulatory care units are either referred directly from their GP or from colleagues in our A&E departments.

What does it mean if I am referred to ambulatory care?

If your GP or our A&E staff refer you to ambulatory care, it usually means that you won’t have to stay in hospital overnight or be admitted for treatment as we can treat you quickly and get you home as soon as we can.

Who delivers the care on our ambulatory care units?

Most care is delivered by specialist nurse practitioners, many of which previously worked in A&E, but there is always a doctor on duty and a consultant available should any more specialist help be required.