LETTER: Work ongoing to tackle King’s Mill A&E pressure

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Like many hospitals across the country, higher than expected numbers of people attending the accident and emergency department at King’s Mill Hospital has led to increased waiting times and put extra pressure on all departments across the trust. 

Additional doctors were drafted in to support the accident and emergency department; and consultants are carrying out extended ward rounds to ensure patients fit for home are identified as early as possible. This frees up vital space in the rest of the hospital for emergency admissions.

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In addition to the measures, commissioners have been leading daily discussions with health and social care providers to identify further bed space, both at the hospital and in the community.  It’s well known hospital is not always the best place for every patient to be. For some elderly patients, going into a strange environment, can make matters like confusion worse. This can lead to increased hospital stays and reduced use of hospital beds.

Providing care in the patient’s own home is one way to overcome this.

Many people have expressed surprise that a relatively normal winter has led to such an ‘all time’ low in waiting time performance.  Much discussion is happening nationally to understand why the pressure has risen so much. We know people are living longer and survival after life threatening illness like heart attacks and cancer means people come with more complex medical needs.

People with complex long term conditions such as respiratory disease, find winter a very challenging time and can become very unwell, very quickly. This means we need the specialist doctors and nurses free to treat patients who need their expertise.

We recently reported that around half the children and a quarter of adults attending A&E during Christmas holiday period in 2013 were discharged the same day with just advice.

There is no one reason why too many people end up in A&E so the solution is also a complex one which requires innovation and co-operation across a range of organisations.

We are constantly working with local media and through social media to help the public to understand the range of services available so they can choose the right service for them. There is a recognition the system can be confusing at times.

People are reminded they can find their nearest walk-in centres by visiting www.nhs.uk or calling the 24/7 freephone 111 number.

By summer 2015 we hope that patients using urgent care services at King’s Mill Hospital and Newark Hospital will see improvements that make it simpler to know where to go if they have a non-emergency problem.  Proposals have already been submitted for a £1.2 million investment to make changes to both hospitals so it’s simpler for people to access urgent care services.

Commissioners and the wider health and social care community are continuing to work hard right now to put in place a system that helps to join up services to that more people have support in place at home, or and be treated in a community setting that suits them to aid their recovery.

The co-operation between different health providers we have seen in this latest ‘crisis’ is an example of the long-term objectives of the Better Together programme - different organisations talking to each other on a daily basis for the benefit of a single patient.

The changes we have seen staff make could not be sustainable without the co-operation of all health and social care providers so I wish to thank staff for their practical help and their resilience during what clearly has been a very challenging winter period. They have however demonstrated that the future aspirations we have for delivering a new, better system can work.

To read more about Better Together CLICK HERE

Amanda Sullivan

Chief officer for NHS Mansfield & Ashfield and Newark & Sherwood Clinical

Commissioning groups

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