New waiting area at Northampton General Hospital aims to free up beds for A&E patients

An artist's impression of the discharge lounge.
An artist's impression of the discharge lounge.

A discharge suite is to open at Northampton General Hospital to help free up beds on the wards .

The room - which was at one time Fleming maternity ward - has been converted into a comfortable area for patients to wait between being told they can leave the ward and actually leaving the hospital.

They will be able to wait there while medication is dispensed or while they .wait for a relative to take them home.

Hospital bosses see the new area as key to making the limited number of hospital beds available for A&E patients who are too often forced to wait for beds.

Dr Sonia Swart, the chief executive of the hospital, said: “People regard the hospital as a place of safety where they can be until every test is done.

“But what everyone needs to understand is that by being on a ward longer than necessary, other people aren’t getting those tests.

“And actually, after a certain point, some people get better quicker somewhere else where they can also have the tests done.”

Dr Swart said the days of people expecting to stay in hospital for days or weeks after an operation were gone and not compatible with teh pressures of modern medicine.

Dr Swart: “But now we don’t have the space to say to patients that we will just keep them until they get their strength back; we don’t have that luxury.

“I guess people can think we are just trying to get rid of them but if you were that person on a trolley in A&E that’s not how you would think. You’d really want to get into that bed.”

The discharge suite will open next week and is situated near Cheyne Walk.