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UK’s first emergency department for patients over 80 to open in Norwich

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j5160 (Published 07 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5160
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. The BMJ

The UK’s first emergency department that is dedicated to patients over the age of 80 will open at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) at the end of November.

When they arrive at the hospital’s emergency department, patients over 80 will be directed to the Older People’s Assessment Service, which will be staffed by emergency consultants, consultant geriatricians, and emergency and older people’s medicine nurses. GPs will also be able to refer their elderly patients to the service with a guarantee that they will be seen by a specialist geriatrician within 48 hours.

Patients who need a hospital stay will be admitted to one of the specialist older people’s wards.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said that 50 people over 80 are seen in the hospital’s emergency department every day. The aim of a dedicated unit is to ensure that these patients get a comprehensive and specialist assessment, which are known to save time for patients, improve their immediate care, and prevent problems in the future.

Martyn Patel, consultant for older people’s medicine at the hospital, said: “Norfolk is home to one of the largest populations of older people in country, which is continuing to grow at a fast rate. This means we’ve got to do something that no one else has done before in the UK, to ensure our older patients are able to receive the best care, most appropriate to their needs, in a timely manner.”

The hospital’s paediatric emergency department has also been expanded, which means that by early 2018 there will be 15 emergency treatment areas, up from three currently.

Frankie Swords, chief of division for medicine at NNUH said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce these improvements for our youngest and oldest patients in time for the winter. For older patients, we know that the earlier we can assess them, the quicker we can get them back to full health, regain their independence, and avoid hospital admission. This is great news for our hospital, our patients, and our staff.”

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