The NHS in east Kent has begun a 12-month plan for improvement in emergency care, which includes immediate action for ensuring NHS services can meet the needs of a challenging winter period.
“Ensuring patients can access the care they need in the community, seeing patients more quickly in hospital emergency departments and improving the experience for patients is the priority for the NHS in east Kent,” said Simon Perks, Accountable Officer for NHS Ashford and NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCGs. “We are focussing on ensuring that the entire local NHS is caring for patients in the right place at the right time, whether that’s in a hospital bed, in a community setting or at home.”
Amongst the immediate actions in the plans are:
- Identifying patients who are frail or at risk of developing pneumonia earlier, so they are less likely to need hospital care.
- Expanding the service that allows many patients to receive hospital treatment without the need for an overnight stay.
- 24/7 mental health teams working in the emergency departments to ensure patients have fast access to appropriate services.
- Ensuring people don’t stay in hospital longer than they need, by further investing in therapies staff, who ensure patients have the support they need to be able to leave hospital safely, for example, with specialist equipment at home.
- Expanding services in the community so that rapid response teams are seeing patients within two hours of a referral from the emergency department.
The NHS is also increasing information to the public about the services minor injuries units and pharmacists provide, and information on how to stay well. A vaccination programme starting in October will also protect staff and patients from catching flu.
East Kent Hospitals Acting Chief Executive Liz Shutler said: “Patients attending the emergency departments are assessed soon after arriving and critically ill patients are prioritised and treated quickly. However, this means that people attending with non-life threatening illnesses and injuries can wait for a long time and this is not the standard we want for any of our patients.
“We are carefully monitoring our services to ensure that patients are receiving safe standards of care. A wide range of doctors, nurses, therapists and other clinical staff make up the teams in our emergency departments and are working extremely hard to care for patients but it is challenging as we are still covering vacant posts with temporary staff.
“We have been successful in a bid for £800k to expand the departments at Ashford and Margate hospitals. This refurbishment work to increase the space available and provide a better environment for sick or injured patients, has begun and will be completed in October.
“We are continuing to work hard to recruit staff and have recently recruited 10 permanent emergency doctors that are joining East Kent Hospitals in the next two months.
“Every member of staff is working extremely hard to care for patients, and improving standards for emergency patients is our top priority.”
NHS Ashford and NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCGs 06 October 2017