More beds free, specialist patient care and faster treatment: Service moves to seven days

By Lucy Ashton

A specialist-led service which provides acute-level hospital care in an outpatient capacity to patients with complex infections is playing a critical role in freeing crucial bed space in hospitals across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

The Outpatient Parenteral Antimicrobial Therapy (OPAT) service, which re-launched in January 2022, has seen more than 17,000 hospital bed days avoided throughout 2022 and looks set to further increase impact in 2023 as it moves to a seven days a week service.

Based at the QEUH in Glasgow, but with outreach to hospitals throughout NHSGGC, the specialist OPAT team which is made up of nurses, pharmacists and infectious disease consultants, can see more than 100 new referrals each month.

The service treats patients with infections who require IV antibiotics either on a short or long-term basis but who are otherwise suitable for outpatient treatment. This might include, for example, patients suffering cellulitis, which is a common skin infection or, a range of other difficult to treat infections, for example, complicating diabetes, chronic lung disease or surgery.

About one in three patients are referred direct by GPs and avoid hospital admission altogether while two thirds (usually with more complex infection and requiring initial hospital investigations and treatment) have their hospital stay significantly shortened. For patients that require an initial inpatient stay, the time spent in hospital is shortened by an average of three weeks per patient.

Dr Andrew Seaton, consultant in infectious diseases and lead for the OPAT service across NHSGGC, said:  “The OPAT service provides highly specialist care to patients with a range of infections. Our aim for patients is to safely avoid a hospital stay whenever possible and otherwise identify those who may benefit from a supported discharge as early in their hospital admission as possible. Infections like cellulitis are one of the top ten reasons for a short stay (less than one week) acute hospital admission.

“We are particularly focused on avoiding Accident and Emergency attendances and hospital admissions for this group and we have been working closely with GPs and acute care physicians to achieve this. We’re looking to further expand the OPAT service across our large health board in 2023 and ensure that anyone, whatever their needs, can avoid hospital admission or have a short as stay as possible.”

Dr Scott Davidson, deputy medical director for acute services for NHSGGC added: “The work of the OPAT team has been instrumental in freeing up bed capacity for other patients requiring urgent care and has undoubtedly played a crucial role in helping us respond to pressures facing the service. It’s one of a number of care innovations which we’re investing in to help tackle challenges and a fantastic example of how our teams can work collaboratively across services to help patients avoid admissions to our assessment units and to A&E.”

Pictured: Dr Andrew Seaton

One comment

  1. Excellent stuff to move onto specialist clinical 7 day working. And well done the doctors and nurses delivering this.

    But somebody should tell Labour down south where the policy is to lambast doctors for the poor state of the NHS, and I quote –

    ” The NHS is often run in the interests of doctors rather than patients and must reform to survive for the future,” Labour’s shadow Health Secretary has warned.

    And that’ll be why they support privatisation too?

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