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Addenbrooke’s faces into winter challenges

Teams at Cambridge University Hospitals are stepping up measures to ensure patients get the treatment they need as quickly as possible this winter.

Person walking towards the patient and visitor entrance sign for Cambridge Movement Surgical Hub.

Planning has been taking place throughout the summer to prepare for the inevitable surge in demand over winter months.

Many areas of the hospital are performing well and providing excellent patient care, such as ambulance handover times and a big reduction in the number of people waiting more than 12 hours in the Emergency Department (ED), and alternatives to ED such as the Urgent Treatment Centre.

The virtual ward, enabling inpatients to be at home whilst still benefitting from oversight, monitoring and treatment from specialist clinicians, is making a big difference to bed pressures in the hospital, as well as improving patient well-being.

Having started just over a year ago, the virtual ward now routinely has 50-60 patients at any one time, and is approaching its thousandth patient. A pilot paediatric virtual ward is beginning, so that wherever possible children can stay at home with their families and friends, while receiving hospital treatment.

A brand new Surgical Hub, which sits slightly apart from the main hospital, has started treating patients needing hip and knee replacements. Many of these patients have been waiting many months or years for procedures.

This protected orthopaedic facility, which provides 40 additional beds and three state-of-the-art operating theatres, will operate all year round, and will not be affected by pressures in other parts of the hospital. It will increase CUH’s orthopaedic capacity by 20% to around 2,700 procedures a year. It has an incredible eight-minute turnaround time between patients in theatre.

One current focus of attention where improvement is needed is the national four hour standard, which requires 76% of patients in the ED to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

Currently CUH is falling below this target; in October, this target was met in only 60.3% of cases. Because it is such an important target for providing high-quality and safe patient care, hospital teams are putting additional focus and attention into this area to ensure that changes can be put in place to ensure we treat patients in a more timely manner.

Doctor and divisional director Steve Wallis said:

The work that everyone has done over the last three and a half years to transform urgent and emergency care at CUH has been phenomenal.

Doctor and divisional director Steve Wallis

"We have so many new measures in place for same day treatment, excellent ambulance handover times and have reduced the amount of time people wait in our emergency department."

“The four hour standard is the final hurdle in this transformation of ensuring timely, safe and high-quality care for our patients.”

Chief Operating Officer Nicola Ayton said:

We have faced many challenges here at CUH in the past few years, and have learnt a great deal about how to deliver better care for patients.

Chief Operating Officer Nicola Ayton

“We are now putting all this learning into action to overcome current difficulties in the emergency department, as we know that meeting the four-hour standard is key to delivering the excellent care that we all want to provide for our patients.

“This winter we have one priority: providing high quality and timely care for all our patients. This is what we all come to work to do, and this is what we will continue to strive for.”