Hospital beds

Southend Hospital's final floors of wing open to reduce waiting times

Mid and South Essex NHS FT’s (MSEFT) Southend Hospital, is aiming to reduce patients’ waiting time with a new purpose-built £9.7m wing. The hospital’s ground floor of the new Cherry Tree Wing opened in April, and the first and second floor just started welcoming patients. It has also been designed to factor in greater social distancing during Covid. 

The initiative plans to free up beds, so fewer people are unnecessarily admitted to a ward. It also expects patients to be seen quicker when they arrive at the hospital.

Clare Panniker, Chief Executive at MSEFT, said: “We’ve had investment in buildings across the trust to help enhance our patient care, so it has been amazing to see how quickly this new wing has come together. It is great to see it open and it will make a huge positive difference to both our patients and the staff working in these new state-of-the-art areas.”

There is now a Surgical Assessment Unit located on the first floor, which will deal with patients referred to by their GP or by the Emergency Department (ED). The unit includes 18 bed spaces, with the Same Day Emergency Care facilities on the ground floor. It is expected to reduce the journey and wait time for patients visiting for CT, MRI, or Ultrasound scans.

Helen Holder, Matron and Lead for this area, said: “It’s wonderful to have this new vibrant space, both for patients and our excellent team of staff. With us being right next to ED, patients’ turnaround times will be improved as they can be scanned en route and they will be able to see our speciality teams much faster.

“We are providing them with an improved service in a shorter time, in a much nicer setting.”

There is also a brighter, more spacious discharge unit on the top floor of the hospital’s wing, making it more relaxing, as well as making discharges faster for patients getting ready to leave the hospital. The unit will include eight reclining chairs, and an area especially for bed-bound patients.

The hospital has a dedicated pharmacy support team in place, meaning that patients will be able to get their medications to take home much quicker.

Nicola Gibson, Pharmacy Operational Lead, said: “Previously, a member of staff from the ward would have had to go to pharmacy to collect the discharge medications, but here, the pharmacy is brought to the patient. This means that the patients’ wait for medications is reduced to as little as 20 minutes rather than a couple of hours.

“As well as being better for patients, who get to go home sooner, it’s also better for the flow in the hospital.”

The pharmacy team will also offer advice and understanding around the medicines and the importance of completing the prescribed course.

Joshua Barker, Senior Pharmacy Technician, said: “Talking through medications with the patient is an important part of their care and discharge process. The more informed the patient is about how to take their medication, or the possible side effects that the medication may cause, the more it helps reduce medication related readmission to hospital.”

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