Extra help for respiratory patients leads the way

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010

An innovative project designed to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions by providing respiratory patients with specially targeted care in their own homes in Suffolk, has been shortlisted in this years Health Enterprise East 2010 Innovation Competition in the Moving Care Closer to Home Category.

The COPD admissions avoidance scheme was recently introduced to ensure that people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are quickly given access to care in the most appropriate place to meet their needs. The partnership project is being run by Suffolk COPD Services and our Trust.

It has seen the two organisations develop new care pathways so that, where appropriate, ambulance staff answering 999 calls now refer patients to colleagues within the COPD service, who will provide expert care in the person's own home. The initiative has been developed to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions while ensuring patients have the best possible experience while receiving care. It comes after Linda Pearce, respiratory nurse consultant and clinical lead for Suffolk COPD Services, audited information on hospital admissions and found that large numbers could have been avoided.

"Figures show that the vast majority of hospital admissions for COPD patients following a 999 call could have been avoided if alternative services were in place," said Linda. "This is because COPD is a condition which flares up at certain times, leaving sufferers in need of extra medical support. Although some may need the level of care offered at an acute hospital, many are well enough, and prefer, to be treated in their own homes instead - and that's where we come in."

"After receiving a call to a COPD patient, the ambulance personnel will carry out a full assessment and, if the patient does not need to go into hospital but could benefit from some extra support, they will then contact our team of nurses. We offer a guarantee that our specialist nurses will see the patient on the same day and will aim to arrive at their home within four hours if the referral has come via the ambulance service. We'll then carry out a full assessment, investigations and develop a care plan which, in turn, means we can get our patients the help they need quickly and efficiently."

"I think the project is fairly unique, and is the first time two NHS providers have worked so closely together to deliver such a service. We are already receiving interest from other ambulance trusts across the country, and will be feeding back to them with an evaluation of the project's success as it evolves further."

Matt Broad, one of the trusts clinical operations manager who covers West Suffolk, said close partnership working had been pivotal in getting the service off the ground. "We have been working very closely with our colleagues at Suffolk COPD Services to bring forward this innovative project, and are delighted that patients are now benefiting as a result."

"The new service uses the assessment skills of ambulance clinicians to identify patients who have called 999 but are suitable for treatment from a specialist nurse in their own home. As well as helping reduce unnecessary admissions into Ipswich and West Suffolk Hospitals, this also brings benefits to patients by ensuring they are treated in the most appropriate setting to meet their needs."

"We are very proud indeed of the project, which is the first in the country to use this model of delivery and it is excellent news to hear we have been shortlisted for this prestigious award. It has already generated interest from other NHS organisations and we will continue to liaise closely with Suffolk COPD Services so that we can continue developing this service for the benefit of people across Suffolk."

The awards evening is taking place on Wednesday 22nd September at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.

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