Colchester: Brand new £455,000 surgical assessment unit unveiled at Colchester General Hospital

Woman, 97, in serious condition at Colchester General Hospital

Woman, 97, in serious condition at Colchester General Hospital - Credit: Su Anderson

A brand new unit has opened at Colchester General Hospital to speed up the assessment and treatment of patients who may need surgery.

The £455,000 Surgical Assessment Unit (SAU) takes referrals directly from GPs from all over north east Essex as well as stable surgical patients from Colchester General Hospital’s A&E.

Before the facility went into service, these patients were referred to the Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU), which is adjacent to SAU.

Anne Morris, service manager for general surgery, urology and ophthalmology, said: “The skill mix on the EAU is weighted towards medical rather than surgical patients whereas the staff on the new unit specialise in surgery.

“This means we are able to assess these patients more quickly than in the past and therefore ensure they have the most appropriate treatment sooner. In some cases, it means some patients will not have to be admitted.

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“They will be reviewed early by senior staff and, where appropriate, be treated on the unit and discharged or, if clinically necessary, be admitted to the most appropriate ward.”

One of the benefits of the SAU is that it has reduced pressure on the EAU which is one of the busiest departments in the hospital.

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The SAU aims to deliver the four-hour operational standard already in place in the A&E - 95% of patients spending four hours of less from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge.

Patients referred to the new unit include those with abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, suspected appendicitis, blood in their urine, stable vascular conditions and urgent ENT referrals.

Mrs Morris stressed that these patients would not be those with the most critical needs, who will continue to be seen initially in the A&E or patients being admitted for elective surgical procedures.

The SAU, which consists of six bays, one cubicle and a treatment room, is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 8pm, but the Trust’s ultimate goal is for it to be in operation from 10am-10pm, seven days a week.

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