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First dedicated A&E for the elderly expects to treat 50 patients a day

First dedicated A&E for the elderly expects to treat 50 patients a day

The UK's first dedicated A&E department for the elderly is opening in Norfolk to cope with the demands of an aging population.
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The UK's first dedicated A&E department for the elderly is opening in Norfolk to cope with the demands of an aging population.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) came up with the ‘innovative plans’ to change the way it delivers emergency care for the over 80s to help cope with demand.

When a patient over 80 arrives at A&E  in Norwich, they will go straight to the new Older People’s Emergency Department (OPED), where they will be treated by a  dedicated multi-disciplinary team. It includes emergency department consultants, emergency and older people’s medicine nurses and consultant geriatricians.

'Gold standard' care

Staff expect to see 50 older patients a day – or around 18,250 a year.

The hospital has already replaced traditional outpatient clinic appointments with the Older People’s Assessment Service (OPAS). GPs can now get direct access to a booked appointment with a specialist geriatrician within 48 hours of referral, replacing ‘the traditional long wait’ for care.

Dr Martyn Patel, consultant for older people’s medicine said: ‘Norfolk is home to one of the largest populations of older people in the country, which is continuing to grow at a fast rate. This means we’ve got to do something that no one else has done before in the UK to ensure our older patients are able to receive the best care most appropriate care to their needs in a timely manner.’

The moves are designed to provide ‘gold standard’ of care quickly, with comprehensive Geriatric Assessments (CGA) completed within 48 hours of referral or immediately for patients who present at the hospital.

It follows a reduction in the number of older people admitted over the last year, with shorter stays for elderly patients.

The hospital expects to see a knock-on effect on other A&E services.

It is moving the Paediatric Emergency Department and tripling its size from three to nine treatment areas by Christmas, expanding to 15 early next year.

Mark Davies, the hospital’s chief executive described the move as ‘a massive step forward in enhancing emergency care on our patients’.

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