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Trust welcomes winter funding pledge

Leaders at a local Suffolk NHS trust have welcomed the Government’s latest winter funding announcement, which they say will help to support more effective emergency care.

The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) will receive £2.3m to increase emergency care capacity ahead of winter, which is part of the £145m announcement made last week by the Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to support the NHS across the winter period.

The funding will be used to support the WSFT acute assessment unit (AAU), currently in the first phase of development and due to open in December.

The Secretary of State, who is also the MP for West Suffolk, said: “I am delighted that £2.3m has been granted to the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to provide 22 trolley spaces in their new acute assessment unit, which will support their A&E department. 

“I know how much pressure hospitals are under, particularly in the winter months – so this extra capacity to be able to treat the patients who need it most urgently is greatly welcomed. This funding will help enable West Suffolk Hospital to continue to provide first-rate care to patients, with bigger and more enhanced emergency care facilities, this is a big win for the hospital and for the local community.”

The AAU model is designed to support emergency patients that need observation, diagnosis and treatment, but who don’t need major emergency department care – for example, patients with chest pain who may need a heart monitor and clinical observation.

The goal of the AAU is to assess patients quickly; the unit will diagnose the patient’s condition, and wherever possible treat them the same day so they can return home with the help they need, like take-away medications. Having had observations and monitoring done on the unit, those patients who do need ongoing care in hospital can then be transferred to the right, specialist ward for their needs first time.

The unit, which contains assessment and monitoring trolleys and specialist chairs instead of hospital beds, will also help to ease pressure on the emergency department – leaving it to just care for those with major conditions, or minor injuries that can be treated quickly.

Chief executive Dr Stephen Dunn said it would help to support the hospital during the busy winter months: “Every year we see demands on the NHS increase, and this is particularly seen during the winter months.

“Of course we still expect to face challenges this winter, but this additional funding will really make a difference. Our new acute assessment unit will mean people have quicker access to specialists when they need them, and be able to get the diagnosis and treatment they need to go home rather than stay in hospital. It will modernise the way that we care for our emergency patients, and we hope that will have a real impact on our ability to manage winter demand.

“We’re delighted that additional funding support has been provided, and we’re very grateful for the Government’s investment not just in ourselves, but in the NHS as a whole.”

Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, added: “I strongly welcome the £2.3 million of Government investment in our local front line services at our NHS hospital here in Bury St Edmunds. Knowing just how hard our NHS staff work around the clock, let alone during the difficult winter months, this crucial investment is the right support for patients and staff at West Suffolk Hospital.”

The £145 million funding has been given to NHS trusts across the country ahead of winter to improve emergency care. Patients are set to benefit from upgraded wards and A&Es, and hundreds of new beds. It follows on from a further £36 million announced for ambulance services earlier this year. 

The Long Term Plan for the NHS will guarantee the future of the health service, backed by an extra £394 million a week by 2023/24.

The Trust still has a small number of nursing roles available for its exciting new acute assessment unit. Visit www.jobs.nhs.uk for more information and to apply.

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