Smoothing out pathway for patients.
THESE pictures give a first look around a North East hospital's new multimillion-pound Emergency Care Centre.
Next month, patients will begin to come through the doors of the PS32m facility at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, which aims to significantly enhance patient experience and care.
The facility has taken 15 months to complete and will modernise the way patients are cared for during an emergency by bringing together a wide range of services including A&E, walk-in centre, GP care, medical and surgical assessment and urgent children's services.
Darren Makepeace, clinical project manager for the Emergency Care Centre, has been instrumental in the design of the building and has put his vast experience of working as a matron for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's emergency services to good use.
He said: "The centre offers something very new as it is cutting edge and will improve the whole patient experience for anyone who is unfortunate enough to need our services, certainly in the A&E department.
"It brings together a whole host of services and will get people to where they need to be as soon as possible.
"At the moment the facilities are ageing. With the new centre there was an opportunity for us to do something very different, and hopefully smooth out the patient pathway and get people to the right place first time, rather than being passed from pillar to post, which they can be currently."
Patients were given an opportunity to offer their views and opinions on what they felt was important for the centre's design. As a result the building includes 48 single-occupancy rooms and en-suite bathrooms for all patients in the shortstay wards.
Mr Makepeace added: "Whilst we can't adhere is all people's wishes, what we have tried to do is incorporate as much as we can into the design. One of the things that was highlighted was the fact that people didn't really feel as though they had enough privacy and dignity in terms of their care with the kind of facilities we currently have.
"We've inherently designed rooms that are all individual, solid-wall rooms, which give privacy and dignity to patients."
The three-storey centre is equipped with the latest technology as patients can be x-rayed, scanned and tested by a specialised team of experts. It is expected that more than 97,000 people will use the facility annually, from anything from a sprained ankle and a child with a high temperature, through to broken bones, major accidents, strokes and heart attacks.
Tamsin Bray, ward sister for ambulatory care, said: "The centre is really going to improve things for staff as well as patients - it is going to be a better experience for everybody.
"We are all really excited to get into the new facility and the bonuses that it will bring for everyone.
"The aim of the way the building has been built and designed is to try and improve patient flow so that patients will come in one door and travel through the system bit by bit, rather than being pushed backwards and forwards from one area to another. This will provide better patient outcomes and improve patient experience."
Opening of the Emergency Care Centre will be phased over an eight-week period, with the first patients accessing the facility at the beginning of February.
A landmark piece of public art, called Faith, has been installed in the centre. The large stainless steel figure is the creation of award-winning artist Joseph Hillier.
He said: "I want the work to present an image of a human body which overcomes the laws of physics, to become weightless, as in a dream. The piece creates an image of humanity, surpassing the bounds of possibility to create a sense of faith in the hospital, as a place where the human body is understood and can be successfully treated."
Project manager Darren Makepeace and sister Tamsin Bray Tim McGuinness
First look around the new <B Accident and Emergency Department in the QE Hospital, Gateshead.