New POD facility introduced to reduce ambulance delays

A new facility has been installed outside the Royal Gwent Hospital’s Emergency Department to speed up the care of patients who arrive by ambulance.  

This Health Board has worked with the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust to introduce the new ambulance transfer facility – named the POD (Patient Offload Department). 

The POD contains six hospital beds to accommodate ambulance patients at times when the Emergency Department is full.

The new facility will help ambulance patients to be transferred safely at the hospital, enabling ambulance crews to be released more quickly to answer 999 calls from across Gwent. 

The Health Board has already cared for an unprecedented amount of patients in its Emergency Departments this winter and often ambulance crews have had to wait outside the hospital with patients until space has become available in the hospital.

In December, the Health Board’s EDs experienced their busiest ever month on record – the number of patients seen (14,533) being 8% higher than in the previous busiest month on record (December 2018). 

Claire Birchall, Director of Operations at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said: “We have worked with the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust to introduce this new ‘Patient Offload Department’ to facilitate the swift transfer of ambulance patients into our Emergency Department at the Royal Gwent.

“This new facility will enable paramedics to offload their patients more quickly and get back out to answering 999 calls in the community.

“The POD provides six beds in a safe and comfortable environment, which will improve the care we are able to give patients who may have otherwise be cared for in the back of an ambulance at times when the Emergency Department is full.”

Darren Panniers, Area Operations Manager for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “The Patient Offload Department at the Royal Gwent Hospital will provide a safe, dignified ‘offload’ area for up to six patients brought to hospital by ambulance if the Emergency Department is full, as well as disabled toilet facilities, hospital trolleys, medical gases and monitoring.

“We recognise that, in isolation, this will not solve the problem of handover delays, but it’s a practical step in the circumstances to ensure ambulances can be released faster, especially during the busy winter period.”

Find out more about the POD in the following video.