Health and Social Care Board officers were delighted to get the opportunity to visit the recently opened Direct Assessment Unit at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.
Located in the former General Outpatients Department in the main building, the Direct Assessment Unit was one of the proposals agreed through the Daisy Hill Pathfinder Project, which the HSCB was involved in, to help sustain and develop unscheduled care services for the Newry and Mourne population.
The Direct Assessment Unit’s Head of Service, Mary Burke from the Southern HSC Trust said; “The Unit has been designed to enable patients to be rapidly assessed, investigated and treated without being admitted to hospital.”
The Unit now accommodates the Day Clinical Centre, Older People’s Assessment Unit and Clinical Decision Unit which have all been relocated from other parts of the building. The services in the new unit have begun in a phased way by taking patients from their Emergency Department and also taking referrals for suitable patients directly from GPs and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.
The criteria for suitable patients will be based on the ambulatory scoring system to ensure the most appropriate patients can be treated in this unit. To date the Unit has surpassed the estimated number of patients seen per day (10-14 patients) and has been able to achieve over 95% turnaround thus avoiding patient admissions.
The Unit is staffed by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacy and allied health professionals with administrative support. They offer diagnostics, observation and treatment for a range of symptoms including; lower respiratory tract infections, urosepsis, renal colic, pulmonary embolism, DVT and non-specific chest pain.
Situated beside the Emergency Department and Diagnostics, the Direct Assessment Unit now offers a range of alternatives for those patients who require urgent investigation, observation or treatment. This frees up staff time and clinical space within the Emergency Department for those patients who need immediate acute emergency care, hopefully reducing waiting times and improving overall outcomes for everyone.
Dr Miriam McCarthy, Director of Commissioning with the HSCB welcomed the development and congratulated the Trust on its successes to date.
She said; “The HSCB was delighted to be part of this new project and it is great to see the service now operating. It will provide more timely assessment for patients and will help to manage patients appropriately without them having to remain overnight in hospital. I would like to acknowledge the skills, enthusiasm and commitment of staff, all of which have been pivotal to the success of the service.”