Minor injuries unit opens at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in bid to cut A&E waiting times

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The new minor injuries unit at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh has been opened in a bid to beat excessive waiting times in accident and emergency.

The new unit will cost £3.8 million over two years and will work in the same way as the existing minor injuries unit at the Western General Hospital.

It will have its own dedicated entrance, at least six treatment bays, one treatment room and a plaster room, plus a separate reception and waiting area.

Patients will be encouraged to “self refer” directly to the new unit when they arrive at the hospital rather than going through A&E.

NHS Lothian said in 2008, staff in A&E would expect to treat around 296 patients in an average day, with around 80,000 presentations each year. Over the last decade, that figure has surged to as many as 400 patients each day and last year 119,206 patients were reviewed and assessed.

The new unit is designed to provide an interim solution while other permanent options are put in place.

NHS Lothian last met the four-hour target for A&E on October 29, 2017. Since then more than 38,000 patients have had to wait more than four hours in A&E in Lothian hospitals.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This new unit is a great addition to complement the A&E services at the Royal Infirmary. It will help to reduce the number of people attending A&E by ensuring patients are directed to the most appropriate care for them. This in turn means that people are not waiting longer than they should be for treatment.

“Our £850m Waiting Times Improvement Plan sets out our aim to significantly improve the experience of patients waiting to be seen or treated. The new unit at the Royal Infirmary is a positive step towards achieving this.”

The new unit will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Jim Crombie, deputy chief executive at NHS Lothian, said: “Between 80 to 100 patients receive swift and effective care in the new unit every day. Our dedicated team works to treat everything from soft tissue injuries to burns, cuts, breaks and sprains. While it makes sense for patient care, it also helps to improve patient safety by reducing the numbers of patients in the Accident and Emergency department to make sure that those with serious and life-threatening injury and illness are given priority.”