The Minor Injury Unit at Neath Port Talbot Hospital has introduced a ‘virtual waiting room’ to manage patients safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social distancing rules mean that some seats in the waiting area at the Neath Port Talbot Hospital Minor Injury Unit (MIU) have been taken out of use to ensure patients are at a safe distance from each other. With only 14 chairs now available, staff at the unit had to find another way to manage patients waiting for treatment, particularly as the number of patients has been recently increasing.
A virtual waiting room has now been introduced, where suitable low-risk patients are asked to wait in their cars outside instead, and called in via a phone message when their turn comes.
Kevin Randall, MIU Consultant Nurse, explained that a carefully thought-out system was now in place to ensure that only appropriate patients who could safely wait in their cars were asked to do so.
“Reception staff keep a close eye on waiting room capacity and let clinical staff know if it’s getting busy,” he explained.
“We then have a few options, including moving some patients to spare clinical areas to wait, and asking low-risk patients to wait in their vehicles instead. Patients are only deemed suitable to wait in their own vehicles following registration and a triage assessment.”
Patient are able to keep in touch by phone and are advised to come back in to the unit if their condition deteriorates. All patients are seen in clinical priority order and waiting in the car does not disadvantage the patients place in the queue to be seen.
The MIU treats minor injuries only, and patients who have minor medical conditions are asked to contact their GP or visit their local pharmacy.
The Emergency Departments at Morriston Hospital and the Princess of Wales Hospital are still open to those patient with more serious illness and major injury.
The MIU is open seven days a week between 7.30am and 11pm. It treats adults and children over the age of one.