A clinic that was launched in Swansea last month means one nurse can now treat as many patients as it used to take four to do, according to the health board that set it up.
Patients needing intravenous antibiotics used to have to stay in hospital for weeks at a time, even after they were fit to be discharged, noted Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.
“I can fit a lot more patients in each day because it cuts out all the travelling time for the nurses”
Over the last two years, Swansea’s community-based Acute Clinical Team (ACT) has been providing an IV antibiotic service in the patient’s home if they were well enough to come out of hospital.
Bu, because of the distances involved, nurses were spending much of their time travelling between appointments – limiting the number of patients they could see each day – said the board.
As a result, last month saw the launch of a seven-day-a-week IV antibiotic clinic based at Gorseinon Hospital for those able to travel there.
The clinic not only frees up nurses’ time but means more patients can be treated, said the health board.
Swansea ACT comprises 45 staff including a consultant, advanced practitioners, GPs, sisters, qualified nurses and healthcare support workers.
It also provides a rapid response to treat acutely unwell patients at home so they do not need to be admitted.
In addition, if they have been in hospital and have improved but are still unwell, the team continues their treatment at home so they do not have to stay in hospital any longer than necessary.
“We hope there will be more of this in the future as it could have further benefits to the ward and to the community”
Advanced practitioner lead Sarah Davies noted that patients needed IV antibiotics for a range of conditions, such as spinal abscesses, pancreatitis, joint infections and infections after heart surgery.
“Often they were in hospital for weeks or months to have these antibiotics when they were otherwise well enough to leave,” she said.
“We started going to their homes to do the treatment there. But because we cover such a wide area we often spent more time on the road than with patients,” she said.
“If they are frail and housebound, we still treat them at home,” she said. “However, many patients are fit and well. They are mobile so there is no problem attending Gorseinon Hospital.
“I can fit a lot more patients in each day because it cuts out all the travelling time for the nurses,” said Ms Davies.
“The clinic is open seven days a week and is run by one nurse on a rota basis,” she said. “That one nurse can see the same number of patients that maybe four nurses would have seen previously.
“It’s a better environment because it’s a clinical setting and the timing is better for the patients as they’re practically assured of being seen within the slot we give them,” she added.
Also, nurses can only do half-hour home infusions because of the time they must spend with the patient beforehand and afterwards.
If they needed a longer infusion they would have had to go to hospital. But there is no such time limit in the clinic.
Ms Davies also said Gorseinon was an ideal setting, as it meant the community team could do integrated work within a community hospital.
Gorseinon Hospital lead nurse Sarah Taylor said: “This has come about because of partnership working between the hospital and the acute clinical team.
“We hope there will be more of this in the future as it could have further benefits to the ward and to the community,” she said.