Lounge aims to ease pressure on A&E department

CARE But elderly patients don't always need treatment in casualty
CARE But elderly patients don't always need treatment in casualty

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MORE than 150 patients have been steered away from a hospital’s A&E department during the first month of a pilot scheme.

Three health trusts are working together to try to ease the pressure on Queen Alexandra Hospital’s busy casualty department.

The Community Assessment Lounge (CAxL) was put in place in December, as a three-month pilot scheme.

Patients aged 65 and over who go to the A&E department are being assessed in the lounge, to see if they can be treated at home rather than taking up a hospital bed.

From December 10 to January 31, the lounge has seen 250 patients, of whom 157 were ‘admission avoidances’ – potentially saving £302,680.

The scheme is a joint project between Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, and community health providers Solent NHS Trust and Southern Health NHS Trust.

Cate Leighton, a physiotherapy manager who is leading the project, said: ‘The lounge at QA gives us time to organise home services and support, so patients can be discharged from the emergency department, rather than being admitted into the medical assessment unit or in-patient beds.

‘It is a place for elderly patients to be cared for following their initial assessment.

‘So far we have seen 157 patients discharged home safely, showing the project is delivering genuine patient-centred care.

‘Out in the community these patients will benefit from the full support Solent and Southern Health have on offer, including community teams round the clock with nurses, therapists and GPs.’

The trusts say that previously, such patients would have been unnecessarily admitted into hospital, adding pressure onto the emergency department and the hospital’s medical assessment unit teams.

The CAxL is a discharge area within the emergency department in QA, open seven days a week from 9am to 9pm.

Patients stay there until suitable arrangements can be made to transfer them into more appropriate community care.

Staff there work with the community emergency department team, as well as A&E to help prevent avoidable admissions.

The service primarily supports those aged over 65 but if there is a patient aged 18 or over, who meets certain additional criteria, they may also be considered to use the facility.