By Eddie Biknell, Local Democracy Reporter
Patients from Nottingham and the surrounding area are choosing to travel to the Royal Derby Hospital for treatment instead of going to the city’s Queen’s Medical Centre, managers have said.
Patient choice and snap decisions by ambulance crews have seen a “drift” of patients from the Nottingham area to the hospital, the Derby hospital’s chief said.
Sharon Martin said that the issue is not a new phenomenon, but that the site has seen an increase in patients and ambulances from out of the immediate Derby area.
She said one of these reasons is patient choice.
Simply put, the Uttoxeter Road hospital has a good reputation which has been well advertised – leading many patients to actively seek out treatment in Derby.
The hospital’s A&E unit, which in April broke its record for the number of patients seen in one day with 504, was rated the best in the country in October last year.
Another reason for the so-called ‘Nottingham drift’ is the choice which has to be made by ambulance crews depending on the injury or condition sustained by each particular patient.
Due to the location of Long Eaton and Erewash in comparison to Derby and Nottingham, patients there are left with a choice over which hospital to attend, and they are more increasingly opting for Derby.
Ms Martin, the Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s chief operating officer, says Derby has seen a spike which started two years ago, and has never dropped.
Ms Martin said: “About two years ago we first started seeing the drift, largely caused by people being brought in or coming in themselves from Erewash.
“Patient choice affects a lot of what we do here, people may remember a close friend or family member telling them about how quickly they were seen or care they received a few years ago and come to us as a result.
“Ambulance crews have to make snap decisions too and the decision is often made – for patients around Long Eaton – to bring them over to Derby.
“However, they do decide which hospital they go to based on each site’s specialities, of course.
“So they may come to us for people suffering from a stroke or a spinal injury, but go to Nottingham for trauma patients – and that could still be the case if someone were to fall down round the corner of us in Derby.”
Her comments come after managers at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre’s A&E said the department is in need of moderinsation or replacement, and said it was receiving far more patients than it was designed to cope with.
Ms Martin said to cope with the ongoing demand in Derby caused by its own rising A&E attendance, huge winter pressures and car parking issues, changes to the hospital have become a necessity.
This includes £20 million to redesign the entrance to A&E – opening it up and creating more space – and proposed rooftop extensions on the main building and King’s Treatment Centre to make space for 96 more beds.
Work on the changes to the hospital’s A&E department will start in December and be finished by 2020, while the trust has hopes to have the rooftop extensions in place this winter – if it can get plans finalised and approved by Derby City Council in time.