Press release: Hospital trust launches specialist emergency assessment unit for older patients

Clinicians at Southampton’s teaching hospitals have launched a specialist emergency assessment unit for older patients. 

Around 25 people over 80 present to Southampton General Hospital with medical emergencies every 24 hours and, until now, would have been assessed and treated in the emergency department prior to admission to a ward.Gayle Strike

They are now moved on arrival to a new frailty unit, based in acute medicine, where they receive rapid assessment by a team led by consultant geriatricians Dr Gayle Strike and Dr Daniel Baylis.

The five-bed facility, which has been in development for the past year, currently operates for eight hours a day but is expected to extend to 12 hours a day over the next few months.

"We have been working extremely hard to improve the quality of care provided to older people as they are often frail and tended to spend a long time within the emergency department prior to being admitted,” explained Dr Strike.

“Patients are identified as soon as they present to hospital and, rather than spending time on a trolley in the emergency department, they are taken to our dedicated unit which is a quieter and less disruptive environment.”

Following assessment by a team of experts which includes a consultant geriatrician, patients are given a clear plan with the aim of facilitating a smooth admission and minimising their length of stay.

"With the winter months approaching and the additional pressures that will place on frontline services, the completion of this project will further help us to support colleagues in emergency medicine in managing demand.”

Dr Strike added: “Through this access to specialist review, we hope to be able to get people back home where appropriate and, when that is not possible, to simplify their admission and minimise their length of stay in hospital.”

As part of the initiative, UHS has worked in partnership with clinical commissioning groups, surrounding NHS trusts and councils to ensure the development aids improvements in access to community care.

Dr Baylis, who is the clinical lead for acute medicine and medicine for older people at UHS, added: “We are really pleased the unit has been received well by staff, patients and their relatives and we are grateful to our partner organisations for working closely with us to ensure we maximise the benefit of such a positive new project.”

Posted on Monday 10 December 2018