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Increasing capacity in acute day care settings: patients' experiences of a pop-up day care unit

23 February 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 4


The COVID-19 pandemic had considerable impact on paediatric ambulatory care. A pop-up paediatric day care unit for children with allergic and inflammatory bowel diseases was delivered from Nightingale Hospital Bristol (NHB) which was set up to treat patients during the pandemic. Methodology: The unit operated fortnightly between December 2020 and March 2021. Family feedback on the service was collated via an online survey. Results: 72 respondents found NHB acceptable; 70 (97%) would be happy to return; 63 (90.3%) preferred the NHB to attending Bristol Royal Hospital for Children or had no preference for their appointments. Positive comments focused on service organisation and clinical environment. Families valued the availability of the close, free parking. The minimal negative comments related to travel directions, lack of catering facilities and the small number of toilets. Conclusion: The pop-up service model was highly acceptable to families. This highlights the need for appropriate hospital services to explore similar initiatives beyond traditional healthcare settings in order to ensure that the provision of equitable health care is in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic imposed unprecedented disruption to global health care service delivery. Healthcare settings had to rapidly adapt to the high demand of acute patient care and the implementation of social-distancing measures to reduce disease transmission. These challenges resulted in the prioritisation of emergency treatment over routine care across the world. In the UK, to cope with the high burden of intensive care patients observed in other countries, five emergency hospitals were opened across the country with a combined capacity to treat almost 10 000 COVID-19 cases. Ultimately, the demand for the Nightingale hospitals failed to materialise (Day, 2020), and most of their beds remained empty.

The ambulatory care settings in Bristol Royal Hospital for Children (BRHC) were significantly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions: bed capacity was considerably reduced and contingency plans were made to transform the unit into an acute adult bed ward should the need arise. This situation forced the paediatric hospital to restructure its traditional provision and to explore new initiatives to ensure the continued delivery of specialist care. Two specialties, paediatric allergy and paediatric gastroenterology, worked collaboratively with hospital management and leadership teams to facilitate the provision of specialist care to their cohorts of patients.

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