Chief Executive Ann James said:
We know the sight of ambulances queueing and the waits people are facing for Urgent and Emergency Care can be worrying for local people. I wanted to share with your today some good news that demonstrates we are working hard to improve the situation and reduce these waits.
We are expanding our Same Day Emergency Care services, as this video shows, so we can see and treat more people on the same day. As we head into the winter months, we know that we will see even more pressure and demand on our services. The increased pressure means that people are having to wait longer than they should in our emergency department for a bed on one of our wards. To try and ease that pressure we've secured additional funding to help support our patients who are ready to leave, to get home quicker, which in turn helps us free up beds for those people that really need to be here. Our Hospital to Home scheme, a multidisciplinary team who are dedicated to offering short term rehabilitation support for patients in their homes, is already helping patients leave hospital more quickly, as you can see in this video.
Improvements like these do make a difference. Today the CQC has published their Report following their latest focused inspection of medical care (including services for older people) and Urgent and Emergency Care at Derriford Hospital in September. The improvements we are working so hard on across Urgent and Emergency Care (UEC), with colleagues inside and outside of the hospital, have been recognised by the inspectors and our rating for safety has improved in this area. UEC was previously rated ‘inadequate’ against the question ‘Are Services safe?’. This has now changed to ‘Requires Improvement’, recognising the improvements made, including additional staff being recruited.
The inspectors saw there is ongoing recruitment to try to address a shortage of staffing and that staffing numbers in Emergency Care have improved. In the last two years the Trust has increased medical staffing by 200, and other clinical and support staff by 500 (whole time equivalents). UHP is recruiting more clinical staff such as nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants and other frontline professionals. This winter we have invested £871,000 to expand Acute Medicine and Same Day Emergency Care, including temporary paramedic staff. Our recruitment is ongoing and we are working to attract more people to work with our #1BigTeam. We are working hard to support our staff and their wellbeing, including investing in subsidised bus passes, car parking and food costs on site.
Of course there is a lot more work to be done. The conditions placed on our licence for Urgent and Emergency Care in May 2021 continue to apply, reflecting the fact that patients are waiting too long for an ambulance and to access care in the Emergency Department. The inspectors noted that limited availability of social care beds and packages of care in the community are impacting on flow in the hospital. We still have more than 100 patients in hospital whose discharge is delayed because they are waiting for onward care and our partners across the community continue to work on solutions to this. As a system we are working collaboratively to reduce these delays, for example partners in Plymouth have opened the William and Patricia Venton Centre and the Care Hotel to help patients needing discharge .
Building for the Future
At the moment, as the CQC Report notes there is overcrowding in the Emergency Department and this environment impacts of the privacy and dignity of patients. Subject to national approval, enabling works will start in 2023 for a new 17,000m2 Urgent and Emergency Care facility built at the front of Derriford Hospital as part of the New Hospital Programme. This new facility will create space to care, consisting of four floors of emergency care facilities; one devoted to same day emergency care, a new paediatric emergency department, five new interventional theatres, four conventional theatres and all the support accommodation and imaging capacity that’s associated with our emergency care pathway. This development plan is accompanied by a plan to increase our workforce. Watch this short video (4 mins 8 secs) to find out more about our plans.
I want to highlight how complimentary the CQC inspectors were about our staff. They noted that ‘staff treated patients with compassion and kindness and helped them understand their conditions. They provided emotional support to patients, families and carers.’ The inspectors also found that all staff are committed to continually improve the services they offer in both Medical and Urgent and Emergency Care.
Think NHS 111
We are asking for the public to play their part and #HelpUsHelpYou by Thinking NHS 111 first.
If you need urgent medical advice, there’s just one telephone number to remember – 111. By contacting 111 first, either online or by phone, people will get quicker and safer access to NHS services when they need urgent care.
Those contacting 111 who need emergency medical care from a hospital Emergency Department (also known as A&E) will be given direct access to the department.
If the issue would be better dealt with in a Minor Injury Unit, GP surgery or other urgent care site, patients will be booked in directly. This will ensure that people get to the right place for treatment quickly and should reduce waiting times.
By contacting 111 first, people will not only be treated more quickly, but the number of unnecessary visits to some of the region’s busiest healthcare facilities will be reduced – preserving the Emergency Department for those who need it most.