Earlier this month, Hertfordshire and West Essex ICS announced that they are piloting a new approach with the local ambulance service and community providers with the aim of helping patients to get the help they need more swiftly.
Following the pilot in Hertfordshire, the approach is to be rolled out across the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) area with other partners.
Using new integrated ways of working and new digital systems, ambulance referrals can be sent directly to urgent care response services. By supporting people to be seen sooner by the right healthcare professional rather than going to hospital, it is hoped that this will save time and provide a more tailored approach to care.
The new approach enables partners to access EEAST cases so that paramedics can communicate with other clinical teams to identify appropriate patients and discuss whether a community partner can take over their care.
Community providers working with EEAST on this new approach include Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Essex Partnership University NHS Trust. They provide rapid response services that can help people at home and services promoting greater independence in the home, enabling onward referrals and follow ups within community services to be made.
Elizabeth Disney, Director of Operation at the ICS, commented: “When people dial 999 we recognise that we must meet their needs rapidly and effectively. This innovative partnership arrangement and new way of working has shown us that this is possible at the same time as reducing waiting times at the Emergency Department and increasing the number of ambulances available to respond to the most urgent cases.
“We are very pleased with the results of the pilot and are working through the necessary arrangements for the service to continue.”
Tom Abell, EEAST Chief Executive, said: “This will help free up our dedicated people to see patients who most need our care and help reduce pressure on hospitals, reducing handover delays at emergency departments. Emergency patients with time critical care will always be taken straight to hospital for treatment.”
HCT’s Chief Executive, Elliot Howard-Jones, added: “Working as one-healthcare system to extend access to the EEAST is a momentous occasion as it not only means patients get the care they need when they need it – but it that we are working together to reduce pressure on other services while still providing quality local healthcare.”