Back in July, James Thomas used the weekly message to talk about the Making Every Day Count Programme. James described the sustained pressure our urgent care services are under; how winter pressure is usually abated by May, yet this year continued into the summer months. As we are about to enter a new winter period, it’s clear we need to make some bold changes to improve the situation for patients and the team.
By 2022 we will have a fantastic new Urgent and Emergency Care Facility (exact name TBC) comprising an Integrated Assessment Unit, A&E, Urgent Treatment Centre and other assessment areas and services - this will greatly help. However the increase in demand will not wait three years and we need to act now; as many of you already know we have been working on those immediate decisions and actions.
James described the team of experts we have brought in to help us improve patient flow, admissions and discharge processes. Having been with us a few weeks, the team now have a firm understanding of the challenges we face and have proposed several changes and improvements.
In order to facilitate this work we need to make some urgent changes to our infrastructure, improving and relocating certain clinical areas and work spaces. Many of these changes will begin on Monday 7th October at St Peter’s along the Level 2 corridor. The area between Pharmacy and MRI is used for multiple services – phlebotomy, rheumatology, medical photography and therapies. We will be moving these services (to a mix of temporary and permanent accommodation), demolishing the current buildings and remodelling this area to include a new ward.
The Acute Medical Unit will then move from its current location to the new ward space, providing a better environment for patients and more space for ambulatory assessment in trolley and chair areas. The space vacated by AMU will be occupied by stroke and neurology beds, currently located on Cedar Ward. This will give more capacity to these specialties and improve the experience for patients. Cedar Ward will become a medical ward and we are still finalising the details of this.
This is just one part of the jigsaw. In the coming months we also have plans to extend the Surgical Assessment Unit with the creation of a second facility and will make some changes to surgery beds. We will continue to move forward with opportunities to expand our inpatient services at Ashford. Later next year we are also building a new theatre at Ashford to focus more of our elective surgery there.
So there is lots happening and of course, change can bring a mix of positive and negative emotions. This message is for every member of Team ASPH. You will all be affected, some more than others and I am grateful to the forbearance of those of you most severely affected. I think my message comes back to the heart of our vision – to provide an outstanding experience and best outcome for patients and you the team. Currently the infrastructure in some parts of the hospitals makes this very difficult to achieve. We can only move forward if we change things and that does come with short term disruption for which I apologise, but do bear with us.
In a similar way to the challenges the car parking works will bring, please be patient and let’s keep our eye on the prize. Each month over the next three years we will see positive improvements across the hospitals. It really is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. So whilst I understand the frustration of inconvenient moves and changes, please do remember why we are making all of these changes and let’s nurture a sense of pride and excitement. Thank you.
Wishing you all a good week ahead.
With best wishes