A new service aimed at speeding up the time it takes to assess patients who may require emergency surgery has opened at Watford Hospital.

The new emergency surgical assessment unit (ESAU) sees patients who may need surgery for a wide range of conditions, including problems with their arteries, bladder, kidneys or appendix.

It aims to avoid patients having to wait for assessment in the accident and emergency department or acute admissions unit through a direct referrals system from their GP. ESAU also sees patients that have been assessed by the surgeons in our A&E (accident and emergency) and AAU (acute admissions unit).

After the ESAU assessment, hospital staff work up a treatment plan to put in place the specialist surgical care patients need. Surgeon Jeremy Livingstone, divisional director for Surgery, said: "We are really pleased to open our new emergency surgical assessment unit (ESAU).

"The unit will help speed up the time it takes people to receive emergency surgery and will take some pressure off our busy A&E and AAU teams.

"Our A&E team see more than 200 patients a day. Many of these can now be treated in our ESAU, allowing the A&E doctors and nurses to concentrate their efforts on treating patients who require specialist emergency care.

"Previously patients would have needed to be admitted to a ward, where they would need to wait to be assessed by a doctor before receiving surgical treatment. The new unit allows patients to be seen and treated as quickly as possible, improving their experience and avoiding delays in their treatment."