Health and social care services across Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire today (19 December) announced a package of special winter measures to deal with increased demand for treatment over the coming months.
The plans, which include the £1.4 million of funding announced earlier this year by the Department of Health, aim to reduce inappropriate admissions to hospital and improve access to the right care at the right time for local people.
- Additional health and social care staff to support seven-day working, meaning that people who are well enough can be discharged from hospital earlier, including over weekends and Bank Holidays, with the right support to go home or into residential or nursing care.
- Additional GP appointments, both face-to-face and over the telephone. This will mean that fewer patients will need to attend A&E or Urgent Care Centres.
- An ambulatory care service at Royal Blackburn Hospital, which will enable people to receive treatment as a day patient, avoiding the need for unnecessary admissions and ensuring that they return home as soon as clinically appropriate. John Dean, Associate Medical Director at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Many patients attending hospital in an urgent or emergency situation require an opinion and investigation from a specialist physician that day or the following day. Previously, for this to be done quickly, patients were admitted to hospital. The Ambulatory Care service means we can now offer the same assessment without admission to hospital, with investigations, results and a management plan by a consultant immediately, or as quickly as necessary. About a quarter of patients previously admitted to hospital can be safely cared for in this way.”
- Additional information and training for hospital staff by Carers Link to help them to identify and support carers, including directing them to Carers Link for support.
- An increase in Maundy Relief Services at Maundy Grange to include evenings and nights, support the food bank scheme, develop overnight accommodation, offering financial support with heating where needed following assessment, a trained nurse and expansion of the outreach service to support hospital discharge and health advocacy and identify early signs of deterioration in people’s health.
Dr Chris Clayton, Chief Clinical Officer at Blackburn with Darwen CCG, stressed that it is by everyone working together that the health and social care challenges of the winter can be addressed. “We all need to play our parts in making sure that people across the area stay safe and well over winter. We have been planning jointly for a long time and these additional projects will boost our efforts to deal with the challenges we know will arise.”
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social care at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, added: “Looking after our elderly and vulnerable residents through the winter is one of our number one priorities. These extra measures will ensure we are able to provide the right care for people when they most need it and hopefully alleviate pressures around hospital admissions.”
The additional measures supplement ongoing action to direct patients to the right place for the right care using the Think! campaign. People are being urged to visit their local pharmacy for advice and over-the-counter remedies for minor illnesses such as coughs and colds and to make sure that GP appointments are available for those who genuinely need them. Information on where to access appropriate care or to check your symptoms is available on NHS Choices www.nhs.uk Or if people are unsure, they can call 111 for help and advice.