WHHT - Annual Report 06/07 - Accounts

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Annual Report 2006-2007: Service Developments

on a journey to success

Radiology Task Force

The collaboration of a multi-disciplinary team has seen the Radiology Task Force successfully reduce waiting times and achieve the required national diagnostic target of 13 weeks for all modalities during the last 12 months. New ways of working within the departments include a new radiologist rota, partial booking of appointments, and validation of waiting lists. We thank the staff within radiology who rose to the challenge to achieve this excellent result.

Orthopaedics Pre-admission Clinics

The Occupational Therapy team is working with the elective Orthopaedic service to see patients who are to undergo hip or knee replacement surgery before admission. This will ensure that if any equipment is required for discharge, it will be provided before admission, with the aim of contributing to the patient experience.

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Cardiac Catheter Laboratory Expands Service

In June, heart attack patients began receiving an emergency specialist treatment called ‘Primary Angioplasty’. This is a modern keyhole approach to open blocked arteries in the heart; a much more effective treatment than the conventional action using injection of clot-busting drugs. At present this is the only service of its kind in the Eastern region.

Commenting on this new service, Dr David Hackett, lead Cardiologist for the Cardiac Catheter Laboratory said: “I am very excited by this tremendous local development for patients in west Hertfordshire. This is a modern, effective treatment for heart attacks, and I hope it will help to save many lives.”

Waiting times have been reduced for all planned angiograms in line with national and Trust targets. The laboratory also provides a service for urgent in-patients admitted with acute heart conditions. This group of patients would normally have been referred to a tertiary centre for treatment and would have waited as in-patients for, on average, 14 days. 

Stroke Units Go From Strength to Strength

The Trust’s Stroke Units have both received excellent feedback as part of the National Stroke Sentinel Audit for 2006. The Watford unit was ranked eighth out of 224 units which took part in the survey, and the Hemel unit was placed in the top 25% in the country. In November 2006, Dr David Collas led a team performing the first primary thrombolysis - a clot-busting injection to alleviate blood clots in the brain in patients who have had a stroke less than three hours before treatment - a treatment which is not offered elsewhere in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Ongoing training for all staff who deal with stroke patients and their families, active research and prompt diagnostic testing are all part of the reason for the Units’ success.

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Emergency Care Achieves 98% Target

The Trust has made huge progress in meeting the A&E waiting time target. Last year the Trust struggled to achieve 95% performance against the nationally agreed target of 98% of patients seen, treated and discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours of attendance at A&E. Initially supported by the National Support Team and Emergency Care Task Force, a Trust-wide group, with support from PCTs and Adult Care Services, implemented Service Developments changes to improve performance, change working practices and improve the patient experience with shorter waits. During the year, the Trust achieved the 98% target with one of the best performances in the Region.

Picture Archiving System Revolutionises Imaging Services

Since July 2006, within the Trust, printed radiology images – film x-rays – have been a thing of the past. The Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS) allows diagnostic images to be available via computer terminals located in every department – meaning that doctors, nurses and other health professionals can view a patient’s x-rays across sites, sharing knowledge and expertise at a moment’s notice. A major benefit of PACS has been the reduction in reporting turnaround times. In 2006 this was on average seven days, subsequently reduced to three days in 2007 – a major step forward in patient care.

Research and Development (R&D)

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust hosts the Hertfordshire Hospitals Research & Development Consortium, responsible for Research Management and Governance for the two acute Trusts in Hertfordshire. During 2006/7, Hertfordshire Hospitals R&D Consortium ran 327 active studies, of which 263 were externally funded. During the year, researchers at the two Trusts produced 229 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

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