Inside Medway Maritime Hospital's new respiratory ward aimed at cutting A&E waiting times in Kent

  • ITV News Meridian is given special access to Medway's new respiratory support unit

A new multi-million pound respiratory ward will help reduce long waiting times in accident and emergency, according to NHS bosses.

The £5 million unit will increase the total number of beds at Medway Maritime Hospital by 33, when it opens to patients in the coming days.

Managers told ITV News Meridian that their A&E department was under "a great deal of pressure" with many patients attending with more "complex needs" in recent years.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust’s chief operating officer, Nick Sinclair, said: "We've done a lot of work recently on reducing long wait times in our emergency department through improving efficiency processes.

"However, we get to a point where we need additional bed capacity to manage that increasing demand."

Staff are given a tour of the new facilities. Credit: ITV News Meridian

In March, 77.4% of patients attending Medway Maritime's emergency department waited less than four hours to be seen.

The official figures show that 4,124 patients waited more than four hours to be seen in that month alone.

The new facility, funded by NHS England, has also been designed to prepare for potential future pandemics.

The three-bed bays are all sealed from communal areas by automatic glass doors to try to reduce the risk of infections spreading.

The new facility, funded by NHS England, has also been designed to prepare for potential future pandemics. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Director of Nursing, Kate Holmes, said: "We've come through [the pandemic] and learned from every aspect in terms of patient care, patient experience, and how we can be ready for a possible another pandemic, which we all hope will never happen.

"But we need to be ready and prepared should it do so, to make sure we can still deliver excellent care for patients."

The new respiratory support unit (RSU) is part of a wider project to treat all patients with serous breathing or heart conditions into the same part of the large Gillingham hospital.

The vision from Medway Trust leaders is for a 'cardio-respiratory village' to develop at the site.

The existing respiratory and cardiology wards are at opposite ends of the site, inhibiting close working between the clinic teams.

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