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"Every breath I take I still feel grateful for" says Gwent Patient about Innovative Service Saving Bed Stays

When Gwent resident, Catherine from Nantyglo, became very unwell last year she found herself supported by the nurse-led Gastroenterology ambulatory care unit (GACU) at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

Catherine said: “Every breath I take I still feel grateful for.” When describing the support given to her over the past year.



She is currently on the liver transplant waiting list and GACU helps to alleviate the need to travel large distances across the country for specialist care for her condition. Coming to the service for regular transfusions and blood tests, which otherwise, she would need to travel across country to access.

GACU receives around 4200 attendances a year for day case treatment and intervention, with 40 patients a month with conditions similar to Catherine. The service saves approximately 120 bed days a month. A cost saving of at least £54,000 a month.

It is part of an initiative of ambulatory care across Aneurin Bevan University Health Board built on the approach of patients being able to walk in and come home in the same day and only stay if they really need to stay.

Patients can be admitted to GACU for essential care which helps to avoid emergency admissions. Patients are predominantly gastro related but are also referred to GACU from other areas such as those with Bowel disease, others to review blood results or for urgent reviews that can’t wait for a clinic review. The unit also assists with services for neurology, respiratory and palliative patients where it can help.

Catherine said: “It was just a normal mum life for me. I felt really unwell but that was normal for me.”

She was losing weight and had experienced pain on her left side of her body, which was attributed to her spleen compensating for her ongoing liver issues. She was referred and was supported by the unit over the next several months. After her condition quickly worsened, she received specialist treatment in London and ultimately, she returned home to Gwent to continue with local aftercare from the unit.

“I never failed to smile when I came from here, and that was my poorliest days, I still came out with a smile.” Catherine continued

“Thank you, I’d just like to thank them for pointing and pushing me to keep my health on track.”

Gaz Lloyd-Ford, Lead Nurse, Gastroenterology and General Medicine said: “Catherine is a classic example of a patient that has listened to everything that we have asked of her and has gone along with every treatment we’ve required her to do and has become better because of it.”

“It makes me really proud,” he continued “It’s the consultants that back us up on the phone, my team of HCSWs, Qualified nurse specialists, everybody has to pull together to get that patient through and so does the patient as well.”

“Ambulatory medicine as a whole is an evolving thing. Different models are also being used elsewhere in the health board. The whole point being the patients are ambulatory, they are walking, they can come in and can come home. They only stay if we really need them to stay. Or they come back 3 or 4 times that week for treatment that they’d usually have in hospital on the proviso that if they get more poorly or if we’re not happy, they can be referred to the grange.”

“We’re trying to keep within the clinical futures model as best we can, Doctors see the acuity they need to see, it takes the pressure off and means people are getting the appropriate care.”