Sunderland Royal Hospital’s revamped emergency department is hailed by watchdog

Hannah Stoker, left, and Dr Kate Lambert, of Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Hannah Stoker, left, and Dr Kate Lambert, of Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Sunderland Royal Hospital’s revamped emergency department has been hailed as an example of excellence.

The facility, which was re-opened early this year following a multimillion-pound re-design, has been praised in a new report published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Sunderland Royal Hospital's new emergency department.

Sunderland Royal Hospital's new emergency department.

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is the only one in the North East and one of only 17 hospital trusts across the country to be mentioned in the report, which looks at the key issues of managing capacity and demand and sharing best practice that can be shared with other acute trusts across the country.

A total of 36 senior managers, clinicians and nursing staff, including the Trust’s Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Dr Kate Lambert and emergency department manager Hannah Stoker were consulted on how they manage areas of urgent and emergency care within their departments during peak times, such as winter.

The trust opened its new Emergency Department in July with an emphasis on streamlining care and being much clearer about the care patients can expect to receive.

The ED features new technology such as a new electronic records system developed by the team to include clinical decision support tools and a link to allow them to prescribe instantly.

Sunderland Royal Hospital new Emergency Department.

Sunderland Royal Hospital new Emergency Department.

The Trust has also created a pool of emergency nurse practitioners who work with junior doctors and can provide cover to make sure that the department is not under staffed.

Bosses say that the use of expensive locums has also been limited, instead the hospital prefers to cross cover from higher to lower grades and the ED has its own dedicated pharmacist working within the department.

The report has been published to coincide with a region-wide campaign urging the public to consider where is the most appropriate place to go to access the right care this winter.

With growing pressure on urgent and emergency care, Wearsiders are being encouraged to visit their nearest pharmacy at the first sign of illness or see their GP or phone NHS 111 for more serious health concerns.

Dr Lambert said: “We are delighted to have the chance to contribute to the CQC report and be able to share the knowledge and experience that we have gained through the development of our new Emergency Department.

“Winter is a particularly pressurised time for the NHS with an increase in complications linked to seasonal illnesses like flu and norovirus.

“That’s why we are urging people to get the flu vaccine from your GP, pharmacy or supermarket and seek self-care advice at the first sign of illness.

“The majority of people can access a local pharmacy within 20 minutes and get expert advice or can speak to their GP more easily due to extended surgery opening hours during evenings and weekends.”

Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, said: “There is no doubt that urgent and emergency services are under increasing pressure with attendances rising year on year, and the need to treat older patients with more complex needs now a constant requirement.

“Despite these challenges, our inspections have shown that many hospitals are providing good and outstanding urgent and emergency care and have demonstrated their ability to plan for and cope with increased attendances.

“This resource provides practical examples and strategies that are being used by staff in emergency departments across the country to help manage risk and provide high quality care.

“By sharing these examples of best practice, we hope that staff in all hospitals can learn from them and adapt them to support improvement in the quality of emergency care for their own patients.”