Clinical Nurse Specialist Cardiology Sharon Hawkins with patient Peter Woods and wife Gill
The Whitley Day Unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital has saved 1000 bed days in the year that it has been open.
The innovative service was set up to improve the care of patients with heart failure, a chronic illness caused by the inability of the heart to pump properly. Patients with this condition typically experience breathlessness and, as the condition worsens, often accumulate fluid in their legs and lungs making day to day life difficult or impossible.
Dr Jon Swinburn, Consultant Cardiologist said: “In the past, when the condition reached the point that tablet medication was failing to control their symptoms, these patients had no option but to spend days, and often weeks, in hospital receiving intravenous treatment.
“Since opening the new ‘Furosemide Lounge’, patients have been able to attend on a daily basis to receive intravenous furosemide to clear the fluid. They are assessed by a nurse and have blood tests performed in a visit that might last from one to four hours.
“This results in a huge quality of life benefit for the patients, who, although they have to travel to hospital daily, still spend the rest of the day at home with their families. It is also more efficient and since starting the new service has saved the equivalent of almost three hospital beds.
80 year old Walter Clark from Newbury travels with wife Janet to the Royal Berkshire Hospital every morning, seven days a week, to receive his treatment. “I can’t praise the staff and the service highly enough,” he said.
“Everyone is so considerate, helpful and professional. Being able to have my infusion and then carry on my day in the comfort of my own home with my family is fantastic. If this service wasn’t available I would have to stay in hospital for the duration of my treatment - so far that’s been two weeks and it’s not finished yet.
“I have tests done every day to see how my body is responding and that determines how long I need to continue with treatment. To have to stay in hospital for an indefinite time would be dreadfully boring.”
Gill Woods from Woodcote, brings husband Peter, 83, to the unit six days a week. Gill explained: “Peter is wheelchair bound with multiple health needs. He’s been receiving treatment since the 10 March, so a few weeks now and coming every day can be tiring, but I would be doing the journey anyway to visit him if he was an inpatient.
“Receiving treatment this way means Peter and I can still do things with the rest of our day and we have met some super people, here for the same reason, that we probably wouldn’t have spoken to had we not had to spend a few hours with them every day. It has become quite a social gathering!”
As well as receiving excellent praise from patients, the service has received endorsement from the British Heart Foundation, and hosted visits from other Trusts across the country and healthcare commissioners who have been interested to find out more about how the service was set up and operates.