Patients needing urgent medical assessment but not emergency treatment in A&E are being referred to a new unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
The one-stop-shop for urgent clinical referrals was officially opened on Wednesday (November 27), thanks to a generous donation from the hospital’s League of Friends.
The Rapid Access Medical Unit (RAMU), as it is known, is on the ground floor next to A&E.
The referral-only clinic provides GPs, paramedic practitioners and senior community nurses with a quick and efficient service so that patients, who are often frail and elderly, can be assessed without delay.
Medical practitioners hope the unit will reduce the number of people attending A&E and cut the number of admissions into the hospital, particularly at this time of year.
The unit is a partnership between Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), community health services and social and mental health care providers.
Health problems can be diagnosed and picked up early so they can be managed effectively in the community. Doctors say this approach will help to prevent unecessary admissions to hospital at a later stage.
Dr Richard Cook from Mid Sussex Health Care, a GP surgery covering Hassocks, Ditchling and Hurstpierpoint, occasionally refers patients to the unit.
He said: “Using the RAMU is like getting an urgent out-patient opinion - patients get seen quickly by senior physicians and get a management plan developed for them.
“It is ideal for those patients that ‘just aren’t very well’ but I feel should not wait for a routine
Dr Minesh Patel, lead GP for the CCG, said: “The unit is already improving care for patients with emerging medical conditions, which are not managed effectively or in a timely way.
“It acts as a one stop shop for assessing, investigating and beginning to treat people who are frail and where a hospital admission may not result in the best outcome for the patient.”