A new unit aimed at reducing the number of patients having to stay in Watford General Hospital has been opened.

The ambulatory care unit, which has been operating since Sunday, allows patients who need a quick assessment to be diagnosed, treated and discharged on the same day.

GPs are also able to refer directly into the unit, which cost approximately £1.4 million, avoiding unnecessary delays or overnight stays.

On Monday (January 13), 46 patients who turned up at A&E were seen in the unit, 41 of whom avoided an unnecessary admission to hospital. The types of health problems which can be treated at the unit include anaemia, deep vein thrombosis, asthma and cellulitis (a common skin infection).

Dr Mike Van Der Watt, medical director said: "Ambulatory care is all about improving the experience of patients who require emergency treatment, by ensuring they are seen quickly, by specialist staff and avoiding unnecessary admissions to hospital.

"Our A&E department sees more than 200 patients a day. Previously they would have required a full admission to a hospital ward, where they would have to wait to be assessed by a doctor before beginning treatment and often ending up staying as an inpatient.

"Many of these can now be treated in our ambulatory care unit."

The ambulatory care unit is open every day from 8am to 9pm.