£1.6m boost for NHS services over the winter

The NHS in Central Norfolk has been given £1.6 million to help deal with rising demand during the winter.

The plans include

• A temporary urgent care unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. This is being trialed for three months. It will be used to treat people with ‘minor illnesses’ who do not need to be seen by a hospital specialist. Instead they will be seen by community health and care staff who will treat them and ensure they return home safely.

• There will also be different ways of working introduced to ensure patients are discharged from hospital safely and speedily, including additional beds in local community hospitals, and health teams to support some patients being discharged home.

The £1.6 million is a one-off allocation for winter from NHS England. It is being spent on joint projects being jointly delivered by NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, and Norfolk County Council.

Jonathon Fagge, Chief Executive of NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a significant investment which is extremely welcome and which we hope will make a big difference for patients this winter.

“Winter always brings more pressure for the NHS but in recent months and by working in close partnership, we have made major improvements to central Norfolk’s urgent care system already.”

The message for all patients as winter approaches is that everyone has their part to play in reducing the pressure on the NHS.

If you need urgent care and it cannot wait then there are two excellent choices for patients:

• You can dial 111 and get straight through to local, NHS staff who will advise what to do

• 111 is also the number to reach the out of hours GP service

• Or you can go to one of the two walk-in treatment centres at Timber Hill Health Centre, in Norwich, or the Minor Injuries Unit, at Cromer Hospital. Often you can be seen and treated at Timber Hill or Cromer in under an hour

The pilot urgent care unit at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital should be up and running by mid-January and is expected to end on March 31.

It will comprise three, purpose-built modules joined together on transporters, situated right outside A&E.

People with medical conditions, who do not need to be seen by a hospital specialist, will be taken through to the unit. There will be at least three consulting rooms, staffed by a mix of GPs, nurses and therapists, from Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), mental health nurses from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and and social workers from Norfolk County Council.

They will ensure the right support is in place for the patient to go home. Their vital work will ensure that A&E specialists can spend more time with patients who really do need to be there.

The urgent care pilot has been in the planning since the summer. It was tested for two days in November and two days in December. Hospital staff reported the trials had a really positive impact. It demonstrated how the local health ‘system’ works effectively in partnership.

As well as supporting the urgent care centre, NCH&C, which runs a number of community hospitals across the county, is set to make an additional 10 beds available throughout January, February and March. This extra capacity will help to meet rising demand over the winter and offer patients an alternative to acute hospital care.

Six of the beds will be based at Dereham Hospital, while another four will be available at Kelling Hospital. The Trust’s community hospitals offer people the chance to access rehabilitation closer to their homes, making it easier for their families to visit and freeing up acute hospital beds for patients who need this type of care.

Anna Morgan, NCH&C’s Director of Nursing, Quality and Operations, said: “Our NHS staff are experts at helping people to recover from minor injuries or illness enable people to return to the comfort of their own homes as soon as possible.

“Our teams at both the temporary urgent care centre and our community hospitals will be on hand to provide patients with the right care for their needs, so they can retain their independence and avoid an unnecessary visit to a GP or hospital in the future. As well as helping to keep people well, we can also free up emergency care resources for people who really need them.”

Also in the pipeline:

• There will be earlier assessment and discharge of patients who need NHS Continuing Healthcare. This is ongoing NHS care people with very serious conditions. Patients will be given ‘placement without prejudice’ – which means they’ll be discharged, with the care they need immediately, avoiding any long, drawn-out administrative processes.

• There will be a project to identify how to further reduce “delayed transfers of care”. This might mean, for example, speeding up processes to discharge a patient from the hospital or working to anticipate and respond to demands for community beds, nursing, mental health or social care services.

Monday 13th of January 2014 04:00:55 PM