An innovative project to reduce the demands on hospital and police staff will see two highly trained and extensively skilled police liason officers placed within the A&E department at Royal Blackburn Hospital.
The Pennine Lancashire Hospital Early Action Team will be based at the hospital to provide a more co-ordinated and integrated police support role within A&E. These two carefully selected officers are part of a project which aims to deal with frequent attendees and better improve the individuals’ access to health and care services which best meet their needs. The officers start in their role on Tuesday 1 April, and become fully operational following a two week induction period.
This streamlining of patient pathways will provide better outcomes for those individuals and families seeking help.
Subsequently the project aims to decrease unnecessary police attendance at A&E, improve patient and staff experience at the hospital and reduce aggression against hospital staff.
Between September 2012 and September 2013 there were a total of 1230 police calls to A&E, an average of 100 calls per month.
Many of these calls related to complex individuals who frequently visited the A&E department in a distressed state as the result of alcohol and substance misuse or mental health problems.
The police would be called to deal with assaults on staff, concerns for the individuals and other patients’ safety, and to help find some of these distressed individuals who would voluntarily disappear from A&E, in turn sparking a search for a high risk missing person. This meant even further police resources were required and diverted away from mainstream police work.
The officers will work in conjunction with hospital staff to identify individuals who attend the hospital and display:
- Challenging behaviour
- Alcohol and substance misuse issues
- People who do not have a clear mental health diagnosis
- Frequent attendance with all of the above
The officers will link in with a number of key organisations to identify and proactively manage these individuals identified and encourage them to access other health, community and social care organisations such as mental health, housing, adult social care and substance misuse services instead of the A & E department.
Working closely with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) clinicians and other health professionals within A&E and other departments (as appropriate) an agreed care pathway will then be developed to enable a managed approach in seeking to change patients behaviours to prevent re-attendance.
The scheme is a collaborative project funded by ELHT, Lancashire Constabulary, NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS East Lancashire CCG, and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust are also a key partner in the work.
Justin Srivastava, Chief Inspector Lead for Early Action, East Divison at Lancashire Constabulary, said: “This project isn’t about providing a security presence in A&E. These two officers will be highly skilled individuals trained to identify complex frequent attenders at A&E who can benefit from other services.
“This is an extremely positive initiative across the health economy aimed at dealing with the root cause of the problem rather than treating the symptoms of the problem and thus allow resources to be utilised better both from a hospital and police perspective.”
Dr Mike Ions, Chief Clinical Officer of NHS East Lancashire CCG, said: “By establishing clearer pathways into other services the individuals will benefit from care which better meets their needs and is tailored to specifically help them. It allows key services to better help meet the needs of those individuals who require their support.”
Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer of NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG, added: “These individuals and their carers will benefit from improved quality of care as a result and in turn reduce the demand on both police and hospital services meaning staff can utilise their professional skills in a more effective and efficient manner.”
Charles Thomson, Clinical Director of the Emergency Department at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This initiative represents an ideal opportunity to benefit the patients in ensuring that they get directed to appropriate services. It also gives our staff increased support on site and increases police efficiency. This example of safe, personal and effective care will result in a better experience for all patients who attend our Emergency Department. It will help to reduce emergency admissions, re-admissions and streamline the way care is provided to ensure safe and dignified care – key requirements from the Keogh review.”
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “This is an innovative project, and one which I hope will have benefits for all involved.
“I am committed to ensuring the Constabulary’s work is focussed around early action, and this scheme will hopefully ensure residents receive the help and support they require at the earliest possible opportunity.”