Smoothing the patients’ journey to surgery

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THE Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) busy Acute Hospitals perform approximately 25,010 day case procedures and 28,814 elective admissions a year.

Elective admissions are patients who are admitted to hospital following an outpatient appointment as opposed to emergencies via the Emergency Department.

Research shows preparing for surgery is as important as the surgery itself. Aware of this the Trust recently reviewed the entire process – or patient journey – to look at ways to streamline, improve quality and make best use of very expensive theatre time and theatre staff.

The patients’ journey now starts two weeks prior to their date of surgery with a hospital pre-admission and pre-assessment visit. During this visit the patient will speak to their doctor and if necessary their anaesthetist, nursing staff and a pharmacist should any medication be required post operatively.

“Traditionally patients’ would have come into hospital the day before surgery. We now admit patients on the day of surgery to the Elective Surgical Units (ESU), in both Antrim Area and Causeway Hospitals. Patients arrive in the receiving area and from there to theatre completely bypassing their inpatient bed. Following surgery, patients return to a designated post-operative bed in the surgical ward” explained Valerie Jackson, Director Acute Services.

In addition new medical and nursing assessments and documentation, a modernised theatre checklist and protected elective beds has been introduced.

The new surgical units have capacity to accommodate 8 patients for a 23 hour stay. Effectively a one-way system has been created to smooth the patient journey.

This initiative has led to a significantly improved and a more productive elective inpatient surgical service.

Margaret Torrens was recently admitted to the Elective Surgery Unit in Antrim Hospital she said: “The Elective Surgical Unit was like a cottage hospital, all the staff are so professional, friendly and kind. The whole admission process ran like clockwork and I was fully informed of all plans of care. It was a real 1st class service”.