Northumbria’s three emergency departments were under considerable strain, withlong waiting times, inappropriate presentations, poor patient flow and a declining patient experience. The spread of cases across multiple sites meant that clinical staff were not seeing the volumes of patients necessary to maintain their specialised skill competency. Northumbria realised that they would not be able to sustain their service quality standards to public expectations. A combination of medical advances, staffing problems and a desire to improve patients’ outcomes prompted Northumbria to do something innovative, radical, andcontroversial.
“If you’re a breast cancer surgeon you can’t be operating on 20 cases a year. You need more than that to keep your skills up and make it worthwhile to invest in the expensive kit we need and the senior medical staff that people want to be there 7 days a week.”
– Dr. Chris Biggin, Clinical Director of Emergency Care
Northumbria redesigned the model of care and designed and built the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital(NSECH) – the first purpose-built hospital in England dedicated to emergency care. This facility treats the most seriously ill and injured patients, with emergency consultants on site 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
Efficiency is at the heart of the hospital’s clinically led design with the unique shape and arrangement of wards and services meant to ensure resources are easily accessible, and patients are positioned in the most effective way for monitoring.
Features of the hospital include:
•State-of-the-art emergency department (ED);
•Critical Care Unit and Coronary Care Unit;
•Operating theatres for emergency surgery including a dedicated maternity theatre;
•Emergency beds across eight wards;
•Diagnostics, including x-ray, MRI, US, CT scanners, endoscopy, and cardiac catheter lab – close proximity to ED, and diagnostics only used for emergencies (no electives) enables quick test results, increased clinical confidence and faster start to treatment;
•Multidisciplinary team including psychiatry;
•Ambulatory care for the rapid assessment of patients not requiring emergency admission;
•Co-locatedconsultant and midwifery-led birthing centre;
•Nurse-led SCBU; and
•Paediatricunit adjacent to Emergency Department.
Emergency Departments in the two other general hospitals evolved into urgent care centres, allowing NSECH to be staffed 24/7 by the dedicated and highly skilled workforce. NSECH receives emergency patients and all the elective and rehabilitative patients seen at the general hospitals.
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