‘I was treated like royalty’

Connie Brown, right, pictured with her daughter-in-law Sharon, was one of the first patients to benefit.
Connie Brown, right, pictured with her daughter-in-law Sharon, was one of the first patients to benefit.

A pensioner who lives in a village near Morpeth has praised the doctors and staff at a new Northumberland hospital.

Since the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital near Cramlington opened its doors to patients on Tuesday, June 16, more than 6,500 patients have been treated in the state-of-the-art emergency department.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently named Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in a speech about seven-day working in the NHS as a standard to which other trusts across the country should aspire towards.

Mitford resident Connie Brown was one of the very first patients to benefit from the consultant-led care at the facility.

Her family had called NHS 111 as she was suffering a severe pain in her side and an ambulance was immediately sent to her home.

The 89-year-old grandmother, who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, was quickly assessed in the emergency department and had diagnostic tests. She was then moved to one of the speciality wards for treatment for both pneumonia and pleurisy.

She stayed in the Northumbria until the next day when she was well enough to be transferred to Wansbeck General Hospital, so she could be nearer her family for on-going care.

Connie said: “I’m a great believer in giving praise when praise is due and I was treated exceptionally well. The care was first-class and I cannot fault it at all.

“I was cared for on a beautiful ward with all en-suite facilities, I would go as far to say that I was treated like royalty.

“The doctor who saw me had an exceptional bedside manner and explained everything. I wasn’t left on my own at all and there were lots of doctors and nurses around if I needed anything.”

Her daughter-in-law Sharon Brown, who was with her when she was admitted, was also impressed with the levels of care and the hospital.

She said: “It was a worrying situation, but Connie was treated so well and I was kept informed the whole way through.

“I was told what was happening and what was going to happen next, which was really reassuring.”

Specialist consultants in a range of conditions also provide care seven days a week in the new hospital – with full access to diagnostics tests and scans round the clock. More than 6,800 diagnostic tests and scans including MRI, CT, x-ray and ultrasound have taken place in the first month.

All high-risk and emergency surgery now also takes place at the Northumbria, with over 530 operations performed in the last month alone.

Patients are seen quickly by an expert, with senior clinical decision making upon arrival and quick access to tests and scans so that treatment can start sooner. It has state-of-the-art operating theatres for emergency and high-risk surgery and beds for emergency admissions across seven specialty wards.

Since the Northumbria opened, more than 6,300 patients (around half of total emergency patients across the trust) have continued to access urgent care by using 24-hour walk-in services at the Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals for less serious conditions.

Dr Eliot Sykes, consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care who works in the state-of-the-art critical care unit at the Northumbria, said: “Connie’s experience is exactly what our new model of emergency care is all about and it is fantastic to hear such positive feedback.

“We know that providing access to specialist consultant-led care seven days a week can have a profound impact on patient outcomes and the opening of the Northumbria means we can now offer this consistent level of expert care for our patients and save more lives.”

The opening of the new hospital has also seen the arrival of 215 babies at the facility’s birthing centre, which provides consultant-led care and midwifery-led care under the same roof.