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Emergency Department expansion to help speed up patient treatment

09 August 2018

Work is currently underway at Southend Hospital to build a small addition onto the Emergency Department (ED) that will help speed up assessment and treatment at peak periods and help reduce ambulance offload times.

It will be built at a cost of approximately £1.56 million, which is being paid for by the bonus money given to the Trust for meeting its financial target last year, which it is allowed to spend on capital builds this year.

The two floor extension will include a dedicated Rapid Assessment and Treatment

(RAT) area which will feature six RAT bays, a small subwaiting area, and staff offices above it. RAT typically involves the early assessment of patients arriving via ambulance at ED.

A team led by a senior doctor, can then start investigations or treatment quickly. This eliminates an initial junior medical assessment from the patient pathway and means that the first doctor a patient sees is one who is able to make a competent initial assessment. They define a plan of care and make a faster decision as to whether the patient requires admission to resus, majors, minors, to another speciality team within the hospital, their GP, or are discharged home.

Nurses and junior doctors in the RAT team then implement the first stages of the plan of care. The RAT team move round the bays as a foursome and features a consultant or senior doctor, registered nurse, emergency department assistant (EDA) and junior doctor.

ED expansion RAT

Caroline Howard, Clinical Director for ED and Medicine, explained how the building would improve the patient experience: "We've been RATing for over four years, but having a dedicated, purpose built area for it will mean patients come off the ambulance quicker and get seen by a senior decision maker sooner, all of which helps improve both patient safety and the quality of our patient care.

"This small expansion will have a big impact. It will make us a more efficient area and, as patients for admission are identified earlier, they'll be able to leave the department much sooner."

The RAT bays will be built within the existing ED offices and service parking area to the front of the existing building on Prittlewell Chase. Once finished, emergency vehicle parking will be relocated to the side of the existing building ensuring safer entrance and exit for emergency vehicles.

The main construction is expected to start mid-August and will be split into two phases.

The RAT bays will completed and open in December, with staff offices above finished in early 2019.