Following the success of the Emergency Multi-Disciplinary Unit (EMU) in Abingdon, we are pleased to announce that our new EMU, based at the Witney Community Hospital, is now open and providing care to patients.

The EMU has been carefully designed to meet the urgent assessment and treatment needs of patients with multiple, often complex problems, many of whom are frail and elderly.  The central aim of the unit is to allow patients to stay safely at home in a familiar environment during acute illness through comprehensive assessment, monitoring and therapeutic interventions.

The EMU’s multi-disciplinary team consists of doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers.  The team aims to intervene early to avoid unnecessary admission to hospital and maximise an individual’s independence and ability to self-care.

Each patient is assessed within 20 minutes of arriving on the unit and a management plan is discussed and agreed with them within four hours.  This includes a nursing and medical review, diagnostics such as x-ray, blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG) and urine tests and a social work and therapy review.

A pool of four beds is also available within the Witney Community Hospital wards for patients whose needs are felt to be best met in an in-patient environment.  This pool of beds (which are for short-term admissions of up to 72 hours) enable the EMU team to continue working with the patient and help to prevent transfer to an acute hospital.

The EMU at Witney is currently open Monday to Friday 10.00am to 8.00pm with a longer term plan to include weekends in the future.

Referrals are welcome from GPs, the ambulance service, district nurses and specialist nurses and should be made by telephone to 01865 421402.  The unit does not assess patients with suspected heart attacks, strokes and head injuries or those who may require surgery.  Patients with these conditions will need to be seen at an acute hospital.

Since opening the team have seen patients from across West Oxfordshire with referrals coming predominately from GPs and paramedics.   Many patients have returned home the same day, some to return to the unit the next day for review.  A small number of patients have been admitted to the main wards at Witney Community Hospital.

Christine Hewitt, Head of Urgent Care, said “This service will provide an excellent opportunity for patients living in Witney and the surrounding areas to be treated closer to their home.  The service has got off to an excellent start.  Well done to the team.”