Unit aims to get patients home quicker

THE countdown is on for the opening of Ipswich Hospital's £26million Garrett Anderson treatment centre. In the final episode of a four-part look at the project, health reporter HAZEL BYFORD looks at the new elective surgery ward, which will concentrate on getting patients home quickly.

THE countdown is on for the opening of Ipswich Hospital's £26million Garrett Anderson treatment centre. In the final episode of a four-part look at the project, health reporter HAZEL BYFORD looks at the new elective surgery ward, which will concentrate on getting patients home quickly.

GETTING patients home from hospital as soon as possible, is vital in the NHS's battle against bed-blocking.

And Ipswich Hospital's Garrett Anderson centre will give it a chance to take a different tack. Health bosses say the elective surgery unit will mean patients have the shortest stay possible, and there will be less beds in the department because more people will be treated as day cases.

Elective surgery is surgery that is not essential for survival. For example it could be surgery to correct a condition that is not life-threatening.


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The department is moving from its current home on Woodbridge and Sproughton wards. Staff will not treat orthopaedics or gynaecology patients but are taking back breast surgery, which is currently housed on Waveney Ward.

The reduction in beds has already begun. Woodbridge and Sproughton wards both used to be 28-bed but last year were reduced to 22-bed. The move to the new centre will see a further four beds cut, but staff insist it will not have a negative affect on patients.

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Vicki Decroo, matron of general and special surgery, said: “We are moving to provide more day surgery and shorter-stay surgery so we don't need as many beds. Most patients want as short a stay as possible before getting back to their own homes.”

The new 40-bed ward will have five four-bed bays, each with its own en-suite facilities, and 20 single room beds, all with en-suite.

The increased number of single-room beds is to enhance patient privacy and dignity - and aim of all four floors in the centre. Mrs Decroo said: “There will be no problem giving people a single room if they need it. Privacy and dignity will be transformed.”

Naomi Smith, ward sister, said: “The number of single side rooms will be one of the most beneficial things in the new department. That and all the extra space.”

The new department will also see an increased number of registered nurses per patient, because of the need to staff the single rooms and research which found patients wanted a higher nurse to patient ratio.

The Garrett Anderson Centre - named after Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917), the first female GP and a former mayor of Aldeburgh - will house £3.1m of equipment over the four floors.

The additions to elective surgery include a new bladder scanner and resuscitation equipment.

There will also be new bedside tables and lockers for patients, new desks and office equipment for staff and new and more chairs for visitors.

The elective surgery department is on the second floor of the new building. It has not yet been decided what is moving into Woodbridge and Sproughton wards. Accident and Emergency is on the ground floor of the new centre, critical care is on the first floor and day surgery is on the top floor.

The elective surgery department works closely with theatres and critical care and so bringing them nearer each other is deliberate.

The hospital hopes that by improving the department, it will tempt patients to choose Ipswich above other nearby hospitals.

Mrs Decroo said: “We know elective surgery is something you can have done at Nuffield, or in London or Colchester. We are looking to give NHS patients a real choice so they want to come and have surgery here.

“It's previously been a problem providing the space to do that locally. Ipswich deserves to have somewhere with excellent facilities.”

The new surgery ward will have treatment rooms for doing dressings and minor procedures, separate clean and dirty utility rooms, to help fight infection control and better storage with areas for mobile equipment, trolley stores and a central store room.

As well as improving the department for patients, staff are also excited for themselves.

The new ward will have better staff facilities including a rest area, seminar room for teaching and a staff changing area. At the moment, the ward office has many uses.

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What do you think of the old/new elective surgery departments at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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