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West Suffolk Hospital unit officially opened




West Suffolk Hospital's Acute Assessment Unit (AAU) has been officially opened by MP Jo Churchill, after the second phase of the project was completed.

The £4.5 million state-of-the-art unit supports emergency patients and GP referrals that need observation, diagnosis and treatment, but who don’t need major emergency department care.

At the opening on Friday, Dr Stephen Dunn, chief executive of West Suffolk NHS Foundation, said: “This unit will help us monitor people and observe them to get them back to hopefully where they want to be quicker- in their homes and in their communities.

MP Jo Churchill cuts the ribbon to officially open the Acute Assessment Unit at West Suffolk Hospital
MP Jo Churchill cuts the ribbon to officially open the Acute Assessment Unit at West Suffolk Hospital

"Sometimes they will need to come into the hospital but hopefully for a shorter length of time because of the work of this unit."

Built behind the hospital’s emergency department, phase one of the AAU opened to the public in December 2018, with phase two opening in September 2019.

Since phase one opened the unit has seen more than 10,000 AAU admissions and more than 3,000 ambulatory emergency care (AEC) patients- who came to the hospital as an emergency and were diagnosed, treated and went home the same day.

Marc Littlejohn (centre), charge nurse in the new AAU, explained the patient pathway through the unit to chief executive Stephen Dunn (left) and Jo Churchill, MP (right) (18741463)
Marc Littlejohn (centre), charge nurse in the new AAU, explained the patient pathway through the unit to chief executive Stephen Dunn (left) and Jo Churchill, MP (right) (18741463)

After the ribbon cutting, the MP was given a tour of the unit to see how it treats its patients.

Mrs Churchill said: “I think it is fantastic, I saw five years ago what challenges the staff here were working with and it has been a long campaign for so many years to fight for the money for this,

“We are a growing community and we all need a hospital that can serve us, so this is fantastic to have a facility designed by them, for them to use so they can treat patients appropriately to the individual and it will help get patients home more quickly- It just feels like a bit of the 21st century here at West Suffolk Hospital.”

The ambulatory emergency care space at West Suffolk Hospital
The ambulatory emergency care space at West Suffolk Hospital

The AAU is open 24 hours a day and contains 18 assessment and five monitored trolleys, while the AEC is open daily with 11 specialist chairs instead of hospital beds.

The trust hopes in the future to implement a surgical AEC in the unit to support patients who need minor procedures or who need monitoring and assessment by the surgical team, which will include a virtual telephone follow up service.



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