Patients are being urged to make better use of community health care services as works to improve Hull Royal Infirmary‘s emergency department get underway next week.
From Monday, construction work will begin in the ‘Minors’ area of the Emergency Department, where patients with less serious injuries and illnesses are attended to.
Due for completion by the end of the year, the work will deliver a bigger and much improved waiting environment to help hospital staff manage the growing demands on urgent care services.
This will complement other planned work on the hospital’s ground floor to help Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust respond to an increasing volume of patients. Work will continue in 2020 and include creating space for 12 extra assessment beds in the acute medical unit, a new MRI scanner and an extra CT scanner.
But with attendance figures for the city’s Emergency Department now averaging around 400 per day, health bosses want more people to seek help closer to home and enable their emergency care clinicians to focus on the most seriously injured and critically ill.
Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) such as those in Bransholme, Beverley, Goole and Bridlington are often closer to home for many people living in Hull and East Yorkshire, and offer the opportunity to be seen more quickly. Operating until 11pm at night (open round-the-clock at Bransholme) and with some housing x-ray facilities, UTCs can often be the best port of call for sprains, strains, suspected breaks, bites, stings, cuts, burns and minor head injuries out of hours.
Other services which can offer treatment, advice and signposting include your local pharmacy and GP practice. Hull residents can access evening and weekend GP appointments through the Access Plus service, and if you don’t know where to start, call NHS 111 to discuss the problem and receive advice on which service will best suit your needs.
On Monday of this week, hospital bosses called for patients to use these very alternatives as the number of attendances rose, and with disruption expected from next week and waiting space set to be halved in the ED ‘Minors’ area, this message is now being repeated.
Teresa Cope, Chief Operating Officer at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust says: “It’s no secret that the number of people attending for emergency care is gradually increasing and we’re seeing high levels of demand all year round now. This is a situation that is replicated all over the country, not just in Hull.
“When the department is so busy, there is no good time to carry out works of this nature. However, the works are necessary to give us additional space to more comfortably accommodate staff and patients, and to house the facilities we need to respond to rising demand.
“We all have a responsibility to use our local health services considerately, and with disruption expected in ED from next week, now really is the time for people to start thinking a bit more carefully and taking advantage of the services closer to home which could, in many cases, serve their needs just as well.”
Duncan Taylor, Director of Estates, Facilities & Development for the trust says: “The improvement work which begins next week will cause disruption in the ‘Minors’ area of our Emergency Department and in the immediate vicinity. There will be noise associated with the construction work, and physical space will be reduced as hoardings go up, so the waiting area within Minors will be temporarily reduced to around half its current size.
“Patients attending ED Minors will still be cared for, but the experience may be less than ideal and waits of several hours may be compounded by lack of physical space to sit and wait.”
Teresa adds: “We have also been working with City Health Care Partnership to temporarily extend the x-ray service at Bransholme Urgent Treatment Centre. From the beginning of November, x-ray services will be available until 8pm on Monday and Tuesday evenings which are routinely the busiest days for our Emergency Department, and we hope that that this will relieve some pressure on x-ray facilities at HRI.
“We would again urge people to use alternative community-based health services wherever possible, and if anyone feels they have to visit the Emergency Department, we would ask them to be patient and understanding over the coming weeks while improvement works are ongoing.”
A full list of alternative treatment options, including out of hours and x-ray services across Hull and the East Riding can be found at:
East Riding of Yorkshire – https://www.eastridingofyorkshireccg.nhs.uk/choose-well/
[Rachel Johnson – Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust]