A new Planned Treatment Unit (PTU) has opened at Tunbridge Wells Hospital as part of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust’s ongoing commitment to ensure patients access emergency care services in a prompt and timely way.

Opening the new nurse-led unit will enable the Trust to enhance its Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) pathway so that more patients can benefit.

The unit is for day patients who are well enough to attend a pre-arranged appointment to receive treatments such as intravenous antibiotics – used to treat severe bacterial infections such as cellulitis, or infusion therapy which involves administering medication into a vein via a needle or catheter to help manage chronic conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and rheumatoid arthritis due to oral medication not being suitable.

Nurses on the unit can also give blood transfusions to cancer patients who have low haemoglobin levels as well as iron transfusions which are often needed to help raise a patient’s red blood cell count before an operation to help reduce the need for a blood transfusion.

Prior to the unit opening on Tuesday 14 January 2020, patients requiring planned treatments were seen on a daily basis by nurses and doctors in one of the bays in the hospital’s Acute Medical Unit (AMU). There they were treated in the ward alongside inpatients (over 24 hours length of stay) and patients requiring same day emergency care (requiring less than 24 hours stay).

Tara Baker, from Paddock Wood, received an iron infusion in the new PTU on the first day it opened.

Ms Baker said: “I had an iron transfusion in the Acute Medical Unit at the beginning of December to raise my iron levels ahead of an operation and I needed another one this month (January) so it was a pleasant surprise when I was told it would be carried out in the new Planned Treatment Unit. It took about an hour from start to finish. The unit is a nice comfortable and calming environment and my whole experience was good. I think the unit is a good idea overall as it means patients have a dedicated area to undergo their treatment.”

Fiona Redman, General Manager, Acute and Emergency Medicine, said: “Attendances at our Emergency Departments are up by 11% compared to last year. Despite this unprecedented demand, MTW continues to remain in the top 10 performing Emergency Departments (ED) in the country. This is partly due to the fact we have responded to the rise in demand by developing new and innovative ways of working to ensure our patients are able to access emergency care services in a prompt and timely way. The SDEC pathway is a key driver in this and reflects national best practice.

“The new Planned Treatment Unit forms part of this work to ensure patients receive the right care at the right time in the right place when they attend our hospitals.

“In turn it increases the capacity in our Acute Medical Unit to take patients who require same day emergency care and helps ease the pressures felt in our Emergency Department (ED). Because it is a nurse-led unit it means our Doctors are also able to focus their attention on treating our sickest patients.  This ensures safe flow through the hospital.

“We know how important it is for patients not to be admitted on to a hospital ward unless it is absolutely necessary. By opening a Planned Treatment Unit patients can receive their treatment in a comfortable, safe and quiet environment before returning to the comfort of their own home on the same day.”