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£1 million expansion for better patient care

09 May 2018

Health Care

Southend University Hospital has expanded its critical care facility to provide a high-dependency unit (HDU) for patients, increasing its ability to help more patients who need extra care.

Known as the Kitty Hubbard HDU, it will strengthen the service the hospital provides for patients who have had major surgery or who no longer need intensive care but still require specialist monitoring and require a higher level of organ support, improving the quality, safety and experience of care for both patients and their loved ones.This brand new state-of-the-art £1 million facility will care for both elective and emergency patients, and will initially have four beds.

Blanca Boira Segarra, Clinical Director for Theatres, Critical Care & Anaesthetics, said:  "Until now we didn't have a dedicated area for these patients and Kitty Hubbard HDU will support patients from all specialities across the hospital who need a higher level of care than can be provided on the speciality wards, but who do not need intensive care. In HDU the patient and nurse ratio is much higher than in a normal ward, there will be one nurse looking after two patients. 

"In addition, the HDU beds could prevent admission of deteriorating patients to ITU by providing speedy intervention in a high dependency environment. Prior to HDU opening these patients would be cared for in wards across the Trust, now we will bring patients together for specialist care rather than our staff and equipment having to go to several different areas.

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"The new unit will also help us stepping patients down from the Intensive Care Unit before they go back to a normal ward. This will have a positive impact on the capacity to admit intensive care patients." 

And this has been made a reality, in part, thanks to the generosity of local people. £212k was donated by the hospital associated charities who helped bring this fantastic lifeline to patients into being. This money enabled the Trust to purchase essential medical equipment to furnish the unit with state-of-the-art technology.

The Southend Hospital Charitable Foundation For Wards Appeal contributed £60,000 towards the cost of equipping one HDU bed.  The majority of this money, £50,000, was raised from the proceeds of the Southend Hospital Charity Shop in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff, which equates to a year and a half's trading income.  The remaining £152,000 came from donations and legacies left to Southend Hospital Charity for the benefit of critically ill patients. 

Fred Heddell, Chair of the Charitable Funds Committee said: "We are proud to support the opening of this fantastic new facility. Our thanks go to the local community who supported our appeal and for the generosity of legators, who have been kind enough to remember us in their wills."

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Mick Thwaites, Chairman of Southend Hospital Charitable Foundation said: "This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Southend Hospital Charitable Foundation and the launch of our For Wards Appeal.  This is just one of twenty areas of the hospital we will be supporting over the next couple of years and I know it will have a big impact on the care of critically ill patients.  I would like to thank the staff and volunteers of our charity shop in Westcliff and for the tremendous support from the local community."

Southend Hospital is now the Essex specialised urology cancer surgery centre and these patients will also benefit from the HDU. These patients undergo complex and very lengthy surgical procedures and often have to be anaesthetised for many hours.

Their immediate post-operative period requires a higher level of observation and monitoring that has to be provided in a HDU or ITU area. Relatives and carers of patients in HDU and the intensive care/therapy unit (ITU) will also be able to take advantage of improved relatives' waiting rooms. 

There are also improved facilities for staff in the Critical Care Services team, including a new seminar room to support training and development, as well as providing excellent opportunities for medical and nursing staff who wish to further their careers caring for high dependency patients.

This exciting new addition to the hospital has seen both medical and nursing staff work very closely with the architect and project team, delivering a fantastic environment to work in that provides the very best for patients.

Paul Cavalier, Partner at property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood, who are based in Billericay, designed the new HDU.

He said: "As a local practice, we're immensely proud of our long-standing relationship with the Southend Hospital and to have been involved in such an important project from the very beginning. Our core business revolves around providing the best healthcare and public sector buildings and it is great to see the scheme and the investment the hospital is making finally come to fruition so that patients can access state of the art facilities and receive the highest standard of specialist care."

The Kitty Hubbard HDU was officially opened with a plaque unveiling by the hospital's Managing Director, Yvonne Blucher, with an opening address given by Alan Tobias OBE, Southend Hospital's Chairman. The new unit will be open to patients for the first time at the end of May.