Earlier this week, I visited Darent Valley Hospital.
Like other hospitals across Kent, their A&E Department has had a busy time this summer following a rise in the number of admissions for cases of dehydration and respiratory problems.
Planning for winter has already begun and I was able to see the way in which new technology is being used to help staff care for patients and reduce delay.
Darent Valley Hospital has a well-established ‘Hospital at Home’ team, which allows people to be treated in their own homes for conditions which previously would have required a hospital stay. This service already saves the Trust on average 257 bed days per month. New advances in technology mean that from 1st October a new system will be trialled which allows a greater range of antibiotics to be administered in a patient’s home. A&E are also now able to use a computer-based drug storage system, ensuring the correct drugs are dispensed more quickly to patients.
A new scoring system is also in place across the Trust, to help identify cases of sepsis. This serious condition is a rare but serious complication of an infection which can lead to multiple organ failure. There are currently more than 44,000 deaths per year in the UK from sepsis and it was encouraging to see the commitment across the hospital in identifying and treating sepsis.
In addition to A&E, I was able to visit The Pine Therapy Unit , Walnut and Willow wards. The Pine Therapy Unit, the specialist chemotherapy unit, is able to treat around 30 patients a day and the professional and caring attitude of the staff was evident. On Walnut ward, the special-care baby unit, I was able to see the way in which new technology was being used to help parents who cannot be at the hospital, monitor the progress of their baby and at Willow ward, I met the specialist staff who help young patients prepare for surgery.
There is no doubt that our NHS faces many challenges, but it is clear the staff at Darent Valley Hospital remain committed to providing the very best patient care. We are very lucky to have a local hospital with such professional and diligent staff.