A flexible solution for expanding A&E capacity has been in place at Southmead Hospital in Bristol since January. The mobile clinic is helping to increase the number of patients seen in A&E while social distancing restrictions remain in place.

Towards the end of 2020, the hospital had seen a rise in the number of Covid-19 patients, and with upcoming winter pressures and continued uncertainty over the pandemic, North Bristol NHS Trust took the decision to increase its preparedness for any future surges in demand.

The decision has resulted in a better way to manage patient flow and reassurance that there would be sufficient capacity to treat everyone, regardless of the Covid-19 situation, without waiting times in the A&E department increasing substantially.

Having been delivered to the site in January, the new facility opened to patients on 1 February, following a short commissioning period. The clinic is now providing additional assessment and treatment space primarily for minor injuries, seven days a week.

Situated in the car park opposite the main entrance to the A&E department, the clinic contains a reception and patient waiting area, consultation rooms for seeing patients, a plaster room as well as clean and dirty utility rooms, a toilet and cleaning store. The layout of the mobile clinic is designed with efficient patient flow in mind and maximises available space.

Having a stand-alone facility next to A&E for assessing patients and treating minor injuries has made it easier to manage patient flow while maintaining social distancing, and means patients can be treated in a timely manner, in the most suitable setting for each patient.

The temporary mobile clinic was provided by Vanguard Healthcare Solutions. Their team has worked in close collaboration with clinical staff, as well as estates personnel from Bouygues E&S, which manages the Trust’s estate at the Southmead Hospital site.

Griff Griffiths, Senior Project Manager at Bouygues E&S said: “There are many benefits of using a flexible facility like this clinic when temporary space is required. Being mobile, the unit was up and running very quickly, causing minimal disruption at the hospital site, and Vanguard’s team were happy to adapt and work with us to arrive at an optimal solution.”

Simon Squirrell, National Sales Manager for Vanguard said: “The unit at Southmead Hospital, provides the Trust with a solution that will enable more efficient streaming of patients coming through A&E, increase capacity and reduce the pressure on the existing facilities. It has also allowed the Trust to prepare for potentially heightened demand from Covid-19 or seasonal pressures.“

The temporary facility will be on site for an initial period of 6 months.