The National Clinical Programme in Surgery in collaboration with HSE Acute Operations and the Healthcare Pricing Office have launched updated standards for acute surgical assessment units in Ireland.
Acute surgical assessment units (ASAUs) have reshaped the way that unscheduled care is delivered to patients who present to higher volume hospitals with an acute surgical condition. These units allow senior surgical decision makers to see patients promptly, thereby facilitating efficient and effective care.
In order to ensure standardisation and to facilitate continued service and quality improvement, the 2017 standards have undergone a review process resulting in a number of key changes to the standards, including how ASAUs are now classified according to how long they have been in operation.
For example, those in operation for less than two years are termed ‘new’ whilst those in operation for two to four years are ‘evolving’ and those beyond four years are considered ‘mature’. There are different expectations for each of these classifications.
Governance has been more clearly defined along with a separate section on staffing which outlines clearly the definition of ‘senior decision maker’. Other additions have included ring-fenced trolleys for ASAU services, clarification of the use of the Manchester Triage Tool, the importance of emergency networked care and management of an ASAU in pandemic situations.
Professor Paul Ridgway, National Clinical Advisor in General Surgery, National Clinical Programme in Surgery, said, “the updated Acute Surgical Assessment Unit National Standards gives a clear roadmap to providing high quality acute surgical care in Ireland. The update is an evolution of the first standards, reflecting the growing knowledge base in Irish Surgery in how to provide safe, effective surgical care to our acutely unwell patients.”
This new update was coordinated by the ASAU Validation Review Board (VRB) and it supersedes the original edition, published in 2017.