Nov 11 2011 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday
IMPROVEMENTS in the quality and safety of patient care were highlighted at Monday's review of NHS Forth Valley's performance.
Before chairing the annual review meeting, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon visited the new clinical and acute assessment units at Forth Valley Royal Hospital to find out more about the recent improvements.
The Clinical Assessment Unit (CAU), which provides rapid assessment and treatment to stabilise patients who are referred by their GP after becoming unwell, has additional capacity. As a result, more patients are now seen in the CAU rather than the Emergency Department which means patients see the most appropriate doctor and are admitted to the most appropriate ward at an earlier stage.
The Acute Assessment Unit (AAU), which opened in July 2011, provides rapid assessment and treatment for patients with a wide range of conditions including chest pain, abdominal pain and severe asthma.
The introduction of new quality improvement and safety initiatives, alongside changes to the roles and skill mix of the clinical team, has resulted in significant improvements in patient care – reductions in emergency admissions, reduced harm from medication errors and fewer unexpected cardiac arrests.
Both units are supported by a short stay ward, led by experienced nurse practitioners, where patients can be transferred to for further monitoring and tests before they are discharged. The ward also links with the Chest Pain Assessment Unit where patients experiencing chest pains can undergo the full range of diagnostic tests.
Ian Aitken, general manager for medicine, emergency care and rehabilitation explained: “The opening of the new Forth Valley Royal Hospital gave us the opportunity to change the way seriously ill patients are admitted and assessed.
“This has resulted in real improvements and ensured the care we for patients admitted as emergencies is safer, faster and more consistent.”
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Forth Valley Royal Hospital shows what can be achieved through an integrated package of investment to deliver modern, high-quality services for patients. I am pleased to learn more about the Acute Assessment Unit and the rapid assessment and treatment it provides for patients.
“It has been an exciting year for NHS Forth Valley, and this year's annual review is an opportunity for myself and the public to hear about all the improvements and achievements being delivered to local patients, as well as giving the public a chance to air their views to help shape future service delivery.”