17th December 2015 Written by Skills for Health

Image: Pop-up healthcare hubs.

Pop-up healthcare hubs are an effective way of working together with the community to create a better healthcare system this winter, says Wayne Parsons, Senior Nurse for Emergency Medicine at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

In 2013, my team set up a new project to treat heavily intoxicated patients in Cardiff city centre to help ease some of the related pressures on public services and in particular the Emergency Unit at the University Hospital of Wales.

The winter months see a lot extra pressure on the emergency units and all the staff, so we wanted to set up an alternative treatment centre to help combat the pressures.

Setting up a new hub

We led the establishment of the Alcohol Treatment Centre (ATC), working in collaboration with local authorities, the police and local paramedics; the treatment centre worked to combat the increased demand during Christmas period, especially around Black Friday. 

At the centre we looked after revellers who had drunk too much but who did not need the specialist care provided at the hospitals’ Emergency Unit. The scheme was a major success and greatly reduced the number of alcohol-related cases in local A&E units, meaning that the emergency staff could focus their care on those that really needed it. 

Building on success

Since the 3rd of January 2015 the ATC has seen approximately 1,210 patients, of these only 185 were referred on to the local Emergency Unit.

We believe that the centre had a real impact on patient care and safety. However, I also believe that different practices are needed to help combat the number of casualties needing treatment.

The treatment centre was greatly beneficial in helping relieve pressures on the local accident and emergency units; however, we are still seeing a large number of people requiring help. Since Halloween this year we have yet to see a dip in our casualty numbers, which is alarming going into the festive season and demonstrates to us that we are very much crucial in helping to treat those in need to assist local hospital staff.

What’s next?

Since we set up the ATC, we’ve had numerous calls from around the country saying that they are looking to follow our lead, which is great to hear. We’ve set up the ATC clinical model to allow other cities to evolve and adapt the programme to suit the needs of the people in their communities and assist their local health units.

We’re proud of the work we’ve done at the ATC and we’re hoping to continue to relieve pressures on the local A&E units during times when it matters most.

Talk to your local Skills for Heath regional director to find out about other innovative ways to improve the healthcare sector.