Aims In many UK hospitals, the Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU) is part of the acute paediatric ward setting that receives acutely unwell children referred from a number of sources. This study aims to investigate the pattern of attendance to a PAU at a large District General hospital in the northwest and explores parents’ satisfaction with the services provided, with the ultimate aim of improving the provision of such services.
Methods A retrospective study analysed patient admissions to the PAU, between August 2011 and May 2012, using data from an electronic database (n = 5456). In addition, a questionnaire was devised to measure parent satisfaction with the services offered. One hundred and nineteen parents who accompanied their children filled the questionnaire in the period between 21st May and 13th June 2012 (n = 119).
Results The mean age of children attending the PAU was 4.5 years. More children attended the PAU on weekdays than weekends, with Monday and Tuesday having the highest rates of attendance. The busiest times were from 17:00–22:00 hours. Despite a mean length of stay of 3.6 hours, parents were generally satisfied with this time (62%). Almost all parents were satisfied with the level of care provided (83.8%). Although the majority were also satisfied with the level of information given (76.5%), there remained a substantial minority who were not.
Conclusion The number of patients attending the PAU varied across days of the week and times of day. Attention needs to be given to staffing PAUs between 17:00–22:00 hours as this is the busiest time with much reduced staffing usually. On the whole, parents were satisfied with their experience within the PAU. However, the length of stay of patients in the PAU needs to be reduced without harming the quality of patient care. A substantial minority were not satisfied with the level of information they received. This may be attributed to pressure of time on staff.