An innovative new service at the Friarage Hospital which allows emergency patients, who would usually have to stay in hospital, to be treated as outpatients – or even in their own homes – has been praised by its local MP.
As he officially opened the unit he said: “A massive congratulations to everyone who made this possible including the Friends of the Friarage and the medical team for thinking a bit differently about how to deliver great health care.
“My job is to represent people and the issue that is always top of their minds is health care and having access to good health care.
“This hospital is doing a fantastic job and the service is making such a difference to patients. It’s wonderful to be able to keep people closer to their homes and this is an exciting new chapter in the Friarage Hospital’s life.”
The unit sees around 300 patients a month who need urgent diagnostics and treatment for conditions as diverse as skin infection, pulmonary embolus (a blockage of an artery in the lungs) and liver failure. Although in urgent need of help, these patients are not unwell enough to need an overnight stay in hospital (known as ambulatory care).
It is staffed by an 11-strong team, including consultants, GP hospitalists and nurse practitioners, and during the first pilot year it has saved over 4,000 overnight stays, with demand for the service steadily growing.
Consultant in infectious diseases Dr James Dunbar said: “The team are providing excellent same-day emergency care for the benefit of hundreds of patients. Essentially we provide rapid diagnostics and treatment for people who need urgent assessment and care but are not so sick that they need to be admitted to hospital as an inpatient.
“Previously the majority of patients we see would have been admitted to hospital which means more beds are now available for people who really need to be in a hospital bed, while at the same time we’re providing the same level of care and promoting care closer to home for our local communities.
“The GP hospitalists are an absolute asset providing common sense medicine and a vital bridge between ourselves and our primary care colleagues.”
Nurse practitioner Elaine Vance added: “We’re serving a huge rural area and have staff also co-ordinating care in the local communities, for example district teams giving IV antibiotics and, in some cases, teaching patients and families to administer medication at home.
“It’s giving appropriate care out in the community, which is where is should be, so people in Leyburn for instance don’t have to make the long journey in for treatment.”
The Friends of the Friarage Hospital have been hugely influential in getting the unit up and running, donating £42,000 towards an ECG machine, beds, pumps, trollies and furniture.
Chairman Upendra Somasundram said: “Every penny we raise at the moment through fundraising is going towards the MRI Scanner Appeal – the donation for this new service has come entirely from the proceeds of the Friends hospital shop.
“This is such a wonderful service for local people and is going to benefit many, many more patients. It’s great that we have facilities such as these at the Friarage run by such dedicated staff and that these new developments are happening in the hospital.”