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University Hospitals of Leicester open new ‘pre-transfer unit’ as part of ongoing commitment to reducing ambulance handover time

24 January 2023

Wendy Allibone (matron, left) and Pushpa
Pre-transfer Unit, LRI (Jan 2023)

A new permanent 10-bed facility has opened this week at Leicester Royal Infirmary as part of the trust’s commitment to reducing ambulance wait times outside the emergency department.

The new ultra-modern unit, adjoined to the Balmoral building, will support patients who have been seen in the emergency department, but are awaiting transfer to a ward, either at LRI or another hospital. 

When a patient enters the care of the pre-transfer unit team, the emergency department team can accommodate another patient who requires a bed, this is typical of many ambulance patients, enabling ambulances to leave sooner. 

The unit is the latest in a number of site changes designed to support people in the best place for their care and reduce pressures that challenge the service during the Winter. 

In December, the trust opened two temporary facilities for ambulance patients adding up to 20 beds with support from external partners. The movement of other clinical services at LRI is currently being considered to create additional clinical space for Winter 2023-24.

The pre-transfer team, led by Matron Wendy Allibone, will provide dedicated coordination support for patients on a transfer – which it is hoped will lead to a better patient experience. Wendy said that the team’s vision was to make patients as comfortable as possible and deliver “exceptional communication” with patients and relatives.

Medical director Andrew Furlong said: “We have been working for a number of months on the installation of the new pre-transfer unit and I’m grateful to the many colleagues at UHL who have worked to make this a reality.

“With the additional capacity the unit brings, we will be able to get ambulances back onto the road quicker, more consistently. That has been our number one priority this Winter.

“We hope having a dedicated team supporting patient’s to move to their next destination of care will also improve the patient experience, which we know has been particularly challenging this Winter due to high attendance to our emergency department.”

Whilst the capacity improvements have enabled the Trust to manage the increased pressure of this Winter, emergency department teams are continuing to encourage patients to select the right place for their care needs.