St Thomas' emergency department (A&E) is one of the busiest in London. We see around 380 patients per day, which is more than 135,000 patients per year, with approximately 20% of those patients being admitted to an inpatient bed for further treatment.
We work hard to see and treat patients as quickly as possible. The national target is to see and treat 95% of patients within four hours; we met this standard in 2012/13, but this will become more difficult as we experience increases in both the number of patients and how ill they are. The current department is too small - this is why the Trust is investing £19 million to rebuild the emergency department at St Thomas’ and redesign the whole ‘pathway’ of emergency care for seriously ill patients who need to be admitted to hospital.
This will improve the environment for patients with a greater percentage of single rooms with en suite facilities; dedicated facilities designed with the needs of patients presenting with mental health conditions, older people and those patients with dementia. There will also be a separate children's short stay unit for those needing treatment for less than 24 hours.
The rebuild of the department will also improve the emergency care pathway by moving our two acute medical wards, which admit most patients from the emergency department, from the 9th and 10th floors of East Wing to the ground floor, so they are much closer to the department.
At the same time staff are working hard to improve the way that care and the service is provided in the future. Some patients come to us who would be better treated elsewhere, for example in the urgent care centre at Guy’s or by their GP. We will be working with GPs and community staff to provide better alternatives.
All emergency care services will remain open throughout the redevelopment, which will start in January 2014 and is due for completion in March 2016.