The Physician Response Unit (PRU) is a new joint service – from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CAVUHB) and Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) – which launched this week.
The first of its kind for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, the PRU will be trialled for six months, operating from 10am to 7pm on weekdays (excluding Wednesdays).
When a member of the public calls 999 within the PRU’s operating hours the call handler may – depending on the type of emergency – choose to dispatch PRU to treat the patient at the scene (rather than taking them to the hospital).
The Unit consists of either an Emergency Medicine Consultant or Senior Emergency Medicine Trainee from CAVUHB and a Health Care Professional from WAST travelling in a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV).
By piloting this consultant-lead service, some of the community’s most vulnerable groups – including the frail, elderly, those shielding and people experiencing mental health crisis – could completely avoid attending the Emergency Unit.
Consultant for CAVUHB and Clinical Lead for PRU, Dr Syed Masud, said: “We’re pleased to be launching this service for residents of Cardiff and the Vale and bringing the expertise of our Emergency Medicine teams to the homes of our patients.
“As COVID-19 is still prevalent in our community, we understand that some of our most vulnerable patients may feel uneasy accessing emergency care in our hospitals. By introducing this service, we’re bringing care closer to patients’ homes in a safe manner – something that is strongly echoed in the Health Board’s 10 year strategy.
“PRU has the advantage of senior decision making at the first point of patient access as our responders have direct contact with specialists and senior physicians within the hospital. This means that we can consult on patients’ individual cases and treat them in the comfort of their own home in a fast and efficient manner.”
As well as having the ability to rapidly consult with hospital specialists, the responders from PRU can carry out diagnostic tests at the scene including coronavirus screening, ultrasound and blood tests.
The Unit is made up of doctors from the Health Board’s Emergency Unit and a Community Emergency Medicine Fellow who will work closely with community partners, such as the police and primary care, to ensure patients from all community groups are eligible for this service.
Dr Stuart Walker, Executive Medical Director, added: “I’d like to thank my medical colleagues within the Health Board, WAST and our community partners for working together to launch this innovative service so rapidly.
“At this crucial point in our pandemic response, I am delighted that the Health Board and other partners are able offer this service to our patients and residents from today.”
Mark Cadman, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Operations Manager in Cardiff and Vale, said: “The Physician Response Unit ensures unwell patients get the very best care in a timely manner from a senior clinical partnership delivered by WAST and the Health Board, working in collaboration for the people of Cardiff and the Vale.
“By taking the clinical expertise of the emergency department into a person’s home, we can save a patient an unnecessary hospital visit where their condition can be safely managed elsewhere.
“It also means more ambulances are available to respond to our sickest emergency patients.
“This is one of a number of advances the Welsh Ambulance Service has made to offer more people the right care closer to home, and we’re pleased to be working in collaboration with our Cardiff and Vale University Health Board partners.”
There are Physician Response Units across the UK but this is the first of its kind for the Cardiff and Vale community. It is being included in a national Delphi Research Project run by the Department of Health.
PRU is not to be confused with CAV 24/7, which is a ‘phone first’ service for residents of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan who believe they may need to visit the Emergency Unit, but it is not life or limb threatening.