Positive patient experience of Acute Surgical Assessment Units

Prof. Deborah McNamara
Prof. Deborah McNamara

The first survey of accredited Acute Surgical Assessment Unit (ASAU) patients shows that their experience was overwhelmingly positive, with satisfactory wait times and clear communication of their care plan. The survey was published by the National Clinical Programme in Surgery (NCPS) which is a strategic initiative between the HSE and the RCSI.

According to the survey, 95% of patients receiving care in an ASAU were happy with their visit and 98% agreed that the quality of their care was satisfactory. 89% were satisfied with the amount of time they waited to see a member of staff and, once seen, the wait time was satisfactory for 92% of patients.

Eighty seven per cent of patients found the Unit easily, 96% fully understood their plan, 94% left the Unit knowing the outcome and 88% of patients discharged received an information leaflet.

The ASAU model was developed by the National Clinical Programme in Surgery.

The number of ASAUs has increased over the last five years and there are now six Accredited Acute Surgical Assessment Units in the public health system – University Hospital Galway, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, St Luke’s General Hospital, University Hospital Limerick, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, and Cork University Hospital. Each of these units has successfully completed a rigorous accreditation process, coordinated by NCPS.

According to NCPS Co-Lead Professor Deborah McNamara, “There are 29 public emergency departments open daily in Ireland. These units are staffed 24/7 and have grown organically over time, with resources not always reflecting local population density or need.

“This report shows that patients treated in ASAUs are very happy with the care they receive. We hope that in the future more hospitals across the country will be able to provide this standard of care to their patient.”

The incremental roll out of ASAUs to other hospitals is envisaged in the coming years as part of the HSE’s plans to improve unscheduled care services. There is also scope to increase the range of conditions that can be assessed in ASAUs by working with colleagues from all surgical specialties.