GWH agrees upgrades for emergency department and radiology – and a new “children’s A&E”

Written by Tony Millett.

The Great Western Hospitals Foundation Trust has agreed a programme of upgrades and refurbishment for its A&E and radiology departments. The work will include the creation of a totally new and separate emergency department for children.

This will allow children arriving at GWH with emergency illnesses or injuries from accidents to be treated in a much more appropriate setting – away from the sometimes scary adult patients in A&E. This work will cost GWH £1.8 million – this is not new money from government but money the Trust has saved through prudent use of its normal NHS income.

Kitting out the new children’s (or paediatric) emergency department will need some fundraising to make sure the surroundings and non-medical facilities – such as toys and a television – are right and provide a calm and friendly environment for children.

It has been a tough winter the hospitals and like others in the south-west, GWH’s waiting times for A&E have gone over the four hour limit.  The trend of attendances at emergency departments throughout the NHS shows a steady increase.

But the reasons for the recent sudden increase in attendances and thus in waiting times are not yet clear.  

John Appleby of the King’s Fund wrote this week: “The pressure in emergency care will not be relieved by focusing on a single aspect of the problem – it requires a co-ordinated response across the whole health system.” Which is code for ‘don’t just blame the GPs’ for sending too many people to A&E and for not doing out of hours care.

Extended waiting times in A&E can be the result of peaks in attendance, reduction in the number of available beds due to delays in the transfer of patients who are able to leave hospital and many other contributory factors.

Work on the emergency department upgrade will start this month and should be completed by November.  The aim is to improve conditions for those waiting and for staff and to allow better flows of patients.

The adult emergency department will have its reception and waiting areas improved and there will be larger areas for staff to work in.
In addition to this work, about £3 million pounds will be invested on the radiology department. One of the GWH’s two CT scanners has become somewhat unreliable and will be replaced.  And a second MRI scanner will be installed in the newly refurbished department.