What started as a three months trial service with British Red Cross teams supporting in the emergency department at Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, has helped more than 21,800 patients since December 2018.

Two years on, the partnership work is greatly valued by NHS staff and patients alike.

British Red Cross teams provide support in the Emergency Department, working very closely with NHS staff to prioritise patient pastoral care needs. That could mean sitting with patients and family members while they wait, ensuring patients are hydrated, keeping patients warm with blankets, and directing family members to loved ones.

Catherine Roberts, interim acute services general manager at the hospital, said: “The consistent support provided by the Red Cross in our emergency department has not only been beneficial for patients but also for our staff.”

Kate Graham, service manager for acute and emergency care, said: “The Red Cross staff very quickly became an integral part of the ED team and have made a real difference to our patients. They have been able to focus on the pastoral side of emergency care and have the time and skills to support and reassure our patients, whilst they wait for admission, treatment or taking them home and settling them back in.

“The team also have access to many additional community services and, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, have been able to link patients with befriending services to support them in the community.

“The Emergency Department can be a daunting place, particularly when you are feeling unwell or injured. At the moment, we are also restricting relatives and visitors in the Emergency Department and, therefore, the role of the Red Cross is even more important. Feedback from our patients has been consistently high and we are extremely grateful for the support that the team provide.”

Dr Matthew Jones, interim clinical director and consultant for emergency medicine, said: “The positive impact of the Red Cross in ED extends far beyond the patients they directly help. Their support allows front line staff to focus on the most unwell patients and by discharging patients home they give us space to treat other who are sick and injured. From the whole ED team – thank you!”

In the two years the service has been running at Princess of Wales Hospital, Red Cross workers have taken 587 patients home from hospital.

Emma Dawson, British Red Cross team leader at Princess of Wales hospital said: “The British Red Cross has worked in partnership with the NHS in the A&E department ever since the service started, to offer extra support for patients and staff. We have the time to sit and talk to patients, listen to their life stories, offer support with any issues they have and improve their wellbeing and general stay in the department.

“When elderly patients arrive, they feel vulnerable and overwhelmed. We find that by just taking the time to sit with the patient, this helps them a lot and gives them reassurance. The older patients recognise the Red Cross emblem and relate it to the war and like to talk about their time served in the armed forces.”

Stanislava Sofrenic, operations manager at the British Red Cross said: “The British Red Cross has stood by people in crisis for 150 years and has supported the NHS since its creation. We are committed to supporting NHS staff in the Emergency Department and to improving the experiences of patients, working together to make what can sometimes be a really anxious time in a person’s life a little more bearable.”

NHS and Red Cross teams in A&E at Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend look back on two years of partnership
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