'Patients love coming to Melton Hospital - we get fantastic feedback'

It’s been operating for nearly 20 years and Melton Mowbray Hospital now treats more than 25,000 patients every year.
The theatre and endoscopy team at Melton HospitalThe theatre and endoscopy team at Melton Hospital
The theatre and endoscopy team at Melton Hospital

The Melton Times has been given unprecedented access to the Thorpe Road hospital and to some of its key personnel.

It has an inpatient ward where 17 people can stay overnight, an operating theatre, a state-of-the-art imaging suite for X-rays and also offers some services based on artificial intelligence.

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This is on top of the Urgent Care Centre which deals with a wide range of health and medical issues.

Staff who work on Dalgleish Ward at Melton HospitalStaff who work on Dalgleish Ward at Melton Hospital
Staff who work on Dalgleish Ward at Melton Hospital

There is a clear sense of pride among staff about the range and quality of services the town hospital is able to deliver.

Head of nursing, Judith Spiers, said: “I am a resident of Melton myself so I would use the hospital as a patient.

“The feedback we get from patients is fantastic.

Patients love coming to our hospital. Once people realise what services are there they want to use them to be closer to home.”

The imaging team at Melton HospitalThe imaging team at Melton Hospital
The imaging team at Melton Hospital
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Many residents will have visited the hospital’s Urgent Care Centre, which is open weekday evenings, 6.30pm until 9pm, and at weekends, from 9am to 7pm.

This runs alongside a Minor Injuries Unit, which is run from the town’s Latham House Medical Practice, 8am to 6.30pm on weekdays.

Rachel Dewar, from the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland ICB, is associate director of urgent and emergency care.

She explained: “We have a really good offer of same day support within Melton.

Receptionists at Melton HospitalReceptionists at Melton Hospital
Receptionists at Melton Hospital
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“The service offers a number of care options, from wounds, cuts and bruises, bites, assessing minor and sports injuries, ear checks, and dressings.

“They can do removal of clips and sutures, injections and a whole range of medication and support for for minor injuries and same day care needs.

“It isn’t an accident and emergency centre but it does have a limited range of diagnostics available.”

Patients are urged to use the NHS111 service first, so they are directed to the right setting. They will get an appointment, or be directed to a different appropriate service rather than having to sit waiting and some treatment can be done by community pharmacies.

Some of the lead staff at Melton Hospital - clockwise from top left - Judith Spiers; Samantha Leake; Charlie Carr; and Sarah LathamSome of the lead staff at Melton Hospital - clockwise from top left - Judith Spiers; Samantha Leake; Charlie Carr; and Sarah Latham
Some of the lead staff at Melton Hospital - clockwise from top left - Judith Spiers; Samantha Leake; Charlie Carr; and Sarah Latham
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Melton Hospital has one of only two operating theatres currently available in the county’s community hospitals - the other is at Loughborough.

Among the types of operations carried out at Melton are hernia repairs, varicose vein, gynaecological and foot surgery.

Plastic surgery is also performed. This includes procedures such as skins grafts and lesion removals.

Upper and lower endoscopy - where a camera is passed through the body - is also done at Melton, along with cystoscopy which is an examination of the bladder.

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Charlie Carr, operational lead for planned care at the community hospitals with the UHL Trust, said: “We are really proud of what we have taken on in the last couple of years.

“We are treating more patients for a variety of conditions including more things in plastic surgery and vascular surgery, specifically varicose veins.

“Operations are carried out under both general and local anaesthetic in our theatre.”

The quality of treatment patients can expect to receive is impressive too.

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Charlie added: “Our services are consultant-led so if you come out to see a doctor at our site, the majority of the time you will be seen by a consultant."

The Dalgleish Ward, for inpatients, tends to cater for an older demographic.

There were 312 patients staying in there in the last year, up from 289 the previous 12 months.

Bed occupancy tends to be around 95 per cent every year. The ward is staffed by 46 people on different shifts.

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Sarah Latham, head of nursing and quality with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT), explained: “There are a lot of post-operative patients on the ward.

“They might have gone in for a knee or hip replacement and haven’t recovered so well and need extra time.

“We have patients who come in who have been stepped down from intravenous antibiotics and we continue that rehab and recovery phase to pass on to our community team.

“We also do some last days of life care for people who will die with us.”

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The hospital has a number of busy nurse-led clinics which support patients at risk of cancer and those with serious eye conditions.

Nursing leader, Judith Spiers, explained: “We use an artificial intelligence system for detecting skin cancer which has been really useful in reducing the backlog for this group of patients.

“One of our other biggest specialities areas is ophthalmology. We have a lot of patients with long term eye conditions because we have an older and a growing population.”

Staff are seeing more patients now with mental health issues, for a variety of different reasons.

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Referrals can be made by GPs and schools, among other sources.

Samantha Leake, director of community health services with LPT, said: “We have seen a higher growth for mental health issues in both adults and children.”

There is a move towards providing a greater range of treatments closer to a patient’s home, either at the hospital, GP practice or actually in their home.

Rachel Dewar said: “We have developed virtual wards which means we can look after patients with a range of conditions, including cardiac and respiratory conditions really well and effectively at home, preventing the need for admission to hospital.

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“We have home visiting services, and a whole range of same day services which can look after patients in their own home.”

There are many services Melton Hospital provides to prevent the need for patients to travel elsewhere in the county or to the city hospitals.

One of these is the ability to do plain film imaging for X-rays and ultrasound diagnostics to detect internal body issues.

And another huge advantage Melton Hospital has is that it doesn’t charge for parking, unlike most other hospitals in the area.

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