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SDEC at Whipps Cross Hospital

Thousands of patients requiring urgent care at our hospitals are now being treated more quickly through dedicated units providing same day emergency care (SDEC). 

As our hospitals gear up to manage demand over the winter period, a purpose-built SDEC unit opened at Whipps Cross this week to effectively free up another 35 beds for others who need inpatient treatment.  

We already operate SDECs – fitted with comfortable chairs rather than overnight beds - at The Royal London and Newham hospitals. The service is not a substitute for emergency admission where it is needed but instead provides faster treatment for a group of patients who would otherwise be admitted to a ward.  

Every day more than 112 of our patients are fast-tracked through this route, thus allowing emergency departments to focus on the most complex cases. They complement the work of Urgent Treatment Centres in managing pressures at the front door of our hospitals by streaming patients who require primary care. 

Dr Simon Green, divisional director for Medicine at Whipps Cross, said: “We want to avoid anyone staying in hospital longer than they have to. A service like SDEC benefits patients by helping them return home sooner, and benefits hospitals by freeing up valuable capacity in A&E for those genuinely in need of emergency care.”

Whipps Cross successfully piloted an SDEC last year but the new dedicated unit has double the space on the emergency floor. It is among a suite of improvements, including a new surgical assessment unit to streamline the admission or patients requiring operations, and an expanded frailty assessment unit to provide specialist help and reduce the time frail patients spend in A&E.

At Barts Health we record the largest number of people attending A&E in the country – averaging 1,500 people a day.  As part of our winter plan we are working closely with the London Ambulance Service and community partners to ease seasonal pressures at both the front and back doors of our hospitals.  

A new system co-ordination centre went live this week linking providers across north east London so teams can pool their resources to manage the daily peaks and troughs of demand at multiple hospital sites.

Our winter plans also take into account the impact of industrial action, the financial challenges facing the NHS, and the need to maintain an elective programme. That means our hospitals continue to drive improvements in the flow of patients and ensure safe and speedy discharge for those who have completed treatment.

Rebecca Carlton, group chief operating officer, said: “Our hospitals are busier than ever, and everyone is working hard to keep our patients safe and well. We are immensely grateful to all our staff for all their efforts in these difficult times.” 

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