Princess Royal Hospital has launched a rapid access medical unit in an attempt to reduce accident and emergency admissions and long stays.

Patients with complex problems that are not critical can be assessed at the unit and clinicians can either decide to admit them or suggest a more appropriate treatment setting.

The clinic combines an acute medical unit, ambulatory care, a bookable rapid access medical clinic which accepts phone referrals from GPs 24-48 hours ahead of attendance, an admission avoidance team and paramedic practitioners.

The hospital is attributing a reduction in accident and emergency attendances to the unit since it opened three months ago.

Lead GP Minesh Patel said: “We’ve had 1037 people go through the RAMU who would have otherwise gone to A&E instead. We’ve seen a significant reduction in 1-3 day admissions.”

It is not an emergency admissions clinic and patients who need further treatment will be admitted into another part of the hospital, rather than the A&E.

This is a joint initiative between the clinical commissioning group, Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust, community services, mental health, social services and the ambulance service.

Dr Patel said: “Our local A&E at the Princess Royal Hospital has seen a reduction in attendances. It’s down to 2010 levels unlike the national trend.”

Matthew Kershaw, chief executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, said: “The Rapid Access Medical Unit is a good example of joint working between commissioners and providers to develop an innovative model of care that embraces integrated working between health and social care partners with the aim of avoiding hospital admission or enabling early supported discharge.

“The initial results are encouraging and feedback from primary care and patients is positive and we will continue to work together to refine the model and further realise the benefits to the local health economy.”