A new unit at an east London hospital is aiming to lessen the burden on A&E by fast tracking patients who need surgical intervention.

The surgical assessment unit at Queen’s Hospital in Romford has officially opened.

Patients include those with abdominal pain, abscesses, or needing a catheter and more than 80 people have been treated in less than two weeks.

They include Kenneth Hovell, 81, who spent time there after attending A&E with urinary problems.

Kenneth said: "The staff have been really nice and it’s a much calmer environment than A&E.

"I’ve had some tests and checks here and it’s all very organised."

Romford Recorder: The surgical assessment unit teamThe surgical assessment unit team (Image: BHRUT)

Patients can be referred directly to the unit, which is equipped with nine trolley spaces and two chairs for patients who are "fit to sit", a treatment room, and a staff area.

Stays vary, ranging from a couple of hours to 12, while overnight stays are infrequent, according to Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust which runs the hospital.

Head of nursing for surgery Sandra Mahoney said: "To have seen over 80 patients in less than two weeks is a phenomenal amount.

"It’s already helping to reduce the volume of patients in A&E, lessen delays for patients needing surgery and avoid unnecessary hospital stays."