Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The Elderly Assessment + Ambulatory Care Unit at Hexham Hospital is both a good thing + the way ahead - a welcome innovation in local healthcare

In July 2015, Hexham Hospital opened their Elderly Assessment and Ambulatory Care unit, with a view to treating as many patients locally as possible. This dedicated centre is run by specialist nurse practitioners and an elderly care doctor who is based permanently in the unit at Hexham, with support also available from elderly care consultants. It is situated right next door to the urgent care centre and provides an environment where frail older people can be quickly assessed by a team with the right skills to determine the most appropriate care for their needs.

This often involves working with community colleagues and local GPs to put plans in place for ongoing care and, wherever possible, avoiding the need for people to be
unnecessarily admitted to hospital, when we know their recovery would be much better supported in the comfort of their own home. If this is not possible and a hospital stay is required, we can, and we do, regularly admit elderly patients directly to Hexham hospital via the elderly assessment and ambulatory care unit.

Since July 2015, 824 elderly patients have been directly admitted to Hexham hospital for urgent care via this route and, on average, this equates to around 48 elderly admissions a month. I recently met the teams running this unit and am pleased to see more elderly people being treated locally at Hexham hospital. It is a system that needs to co exist with Cramlington Hospital, and the other hospitals locally, with clinical needs dictating the best place to be treated, but this is clearly a good use of Hexham's facilities, staff and clinical capacity. I am pushing hard for greater usage and expansion of this system locally.