23 November 2023

Same Day Emergency Care Unit enables patients to avoid hospital stays

 An emergency care unit is enabling more than 70% of patients it sees to be treated and return home on the same day rather than having to be admitted to hospital.

The medical Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) unit at the Northern General Hospital enables clinically suitable patients to be assessed, diagnosed, start treatment and return home on the same day. These patients would otherwise have been admitted to hospital or potentially faced a wait in the Emergency Department.

The service means that patients can avoid unplanned or longer than necessary stays in hospital and recover in the comfort of their own home, and reduces the risks of deconditioning and infection that are often associated with prolonged hospital admissions.

It can also help to reduce the pressure on the Emergency Department, minimise ambulance delays and free up bed capacity in hospital.

Patients can be referred to SDEC from the Emergency Department or the hospital’s Acute Medical Unit (AMU), or referred directly by their GP, ambulance service or NHS 111.

One patient who was treated at SDEC was Denise Naylor, 69, of Longley, Sheffield, after she suffered an asthma attack at home.

Denise said: “I have asthma which I have steroid tablets for, but one day I started really wheezing, was short of breath and couldn’t speak.”

A paramedic attended her home and was going to send Denise to the Emergency Department via blue light ambulance, but after discussion with the hospital decided she was suitable for referral to SDEC.

Denise said: “I was happy with that as I thought it might mean I wouldn’t be waiting as long. It looked very busy, but I was seen straight away and had all my observations done, and a couple of minutes later I was seen by an Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP).

“I had full tests and they examined my chest. Straight away it made me feel better that I was called through and seen to so quickly. It was fantastic in that respect.

“A respiratory doctor was working in the unit and he saw me and started me on some new tablets and arranged follow-up investigations.

“It was all expedited very quickly and I had a lot of confidence in them even though I was very unwell when I first went in. I was informed all the way through and within an hour I was ready to go home.

“Previously I have been admitted to a ward, but I would much rather be at home. It was an excellent service and care.”

Typical SDEC patients may have symptoms such as headaches, hypertension and breathlessness, but the unit is able to accept most non-surgical patients.

Maria Nightingale, Advanced Clinical Practitioner and SDEC lead, said: “Having this facility allows patients to be assessed, treated, and discharged on the same day when previously they would have had an overnight admission. It reduces demand on inpatient services and can relieve pressure on the emergency department.

"Patient feedback to date has been very positive because most people prefer to be treated and able to go home. It also means hospital beds are used for the most sick patients.”

Currently medical SDEC typically has 20-30 patients a day, but can accept up to 40.

It is open for referrals from 8:30am-6:30pm on weekdays, and 8:30am-4:30pm at weekends.

GPs can speak to the Single Point of Access (SPA) to refer to SDEC. Out of hours, appropriate patients who are able to wait until the next day may be able to be treated at SDEC rather than admitted overnight.


Pic: Members of the medical SDEC team

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