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This is the shot in the arm we've all been waiting for

By Dr Richard Wilson

Published 17/08/2015

Dr Richard Wilson
Dr Richard Wilson

This is a real boost for staff morale. We have been working in a temporary Emergency Department (ED) for seven years. While that department served us well, it was time to move.

The new one is much bigger - the cubicle space is larger and allows patients to be cared for in a more dignified manner. We also have a dedicated ambulance arrival area, and patients arriving will potentially go into a seven-cubicle space. They will then be seen by a dedicated team at an assessment unit.

We are putting internal measures in to improve patient flow, and the ambulance arrivals area will allow us to assess patients earlier and will help us figure out who clearly needs to come into hospital. That will allow us to highlight to the Trust who needs to go into a ward.

The pressures in an ED are largely outside the control of the ED, and there are things we need to see put into place.

We need the public to use the ED appropriately and we also need to see patients move out of EDs in a timely fashion. We need to have resources in the community to deal with that and the implementation of Transforming Your Care (a blueprint to remodel the health service to more community-based treatment).

We need to have alternatives to hospital and we need to improve our access to care to keep people out of hospital.

We do know that a lot of space is taken up by patients in trolleys who could sit on a chair. But we are not going to compromise anyone's needs. If someone needs to be put on a trolley, then they will be put on a trolley.

It could be managed in other ways, and that is one method of helping to decongest the ED. When it isn't congested, we become more efficient.

I think that we want to restore public confidence in our EDs, but the majority of patients already get excellent care. That is not without challenges, and there is no getting away from that.

Dr Richard Wilson has been a consultant in emergency medicine at the Belfast Trust for nine years

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