The NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is celebrating after being shortlisted for two prestigious Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards for the second year running.
The organisation has been shortlisted for its North East Essex Falls Early Intervention Vehicle (EIV) and Whole System Acute Patient Pathway Redesign projects.
The North East Essex Falls EIV is shortlisted in the Health and Local Government Partnership category.
The 12-month EIV pilot scheme provided an immediate response via triaged 999 calls to residents in north east Essex, 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
Its primary role was to provide a rapid response service for falls and frailty cases, and to enable people to be safely cared for within their own home where an emergency admission to hospital may have otherwise been necessary.
The vehicle was crewed by a senior emergency medical technician (EMT) from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) and an occupational therapist from Essex County Council.
During its trial period, the EIV had to convey only 30% of the patients it saw to hospital. In comparison, 61% of over 65-year-olds who had fallen were taken to hospital by EEAST’s regular crews.
This shows that the EIV enabled a significantly higher proportion of elderly or frail people to receive care in their own homes.
As well improving outcomes for patients, the EIV saved an estimated £584,423 in unnecessary A&E attendances and the associated costs of hospital stays.
Helen Rowland, the CCG’s Senior Contracts Manager, said: “At a time when both the Health and Social Care system are under increasing pressure, it is vital that we work together.
“The EIV benefitted the whole system as well as the patient, by ensuring that they receive the right care at the right time and are supporting them to remain at home and be autonomous wherever possible.
“Only those patients with a real medical need were transported to hospital, thus reducing avoidable A&E attendances and admissions, enabling us to put in place care packages and increase care to support patients and their carers, to maximise independent living for as long as possible.”
The Whole System Acute Patient Pathway Redesign project is shortlisted in the Acute or Specialist Service Redesign Initiative category.
The project saw a reduction in out of area bed placements for patients with mental health issues, resulting in an improved patient experience closer to home.
North East Essex CCG worked in partnership with the Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT) to provide community care and, when required, crisis care, to reduce the demand on hospital admissions.
This had a significant impact in reducing out of area placement (OoAP) admissions from 5,136 bed days in 2017/18 to 835 days in 2018/19, an 84% reduction that led to a saving of £2.4m.
The social cost for patients, who no longer had to leave their homes and families to be admitted to hospital beds elsewhere, was also reduced.
Rob Chandler, North East Essex CCG’s Mental Health Transformation Lead, said: “A key priority for the north east Essex system has been to shift the centre of mental health care away from inpatient units into the community, delivering care closer to home.
“By working closely and in co-production with Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust to keep patients in the locality, quality of care and patient experience will be greatly improved. The financial savings from a reduction in out of area bed placements also enable us to reinvest the savings within the system to further improve patient care.”
Elizabeth Wells, EPUT’s Director of Mental Health (North East & West), said: “The ambition achieved is the successful implementation of an integrated care pathway which has improved whole system flow, enabling individuals with acute mental health presentations to receive responsive care within their home and local communities in Colchester and Tendring.
“The Mental Health Home First Team and Assessment Unit Model based in Colchester have been integral to this pathway. In the first year, over 1,000 patients have been under this pathway and have been discharged with positive outcomes following a mental health crisis.
“Being shortlisted for this HSJ award is a great acknowledgement for the hard work and commitment from all the NHS staff involved.”
The CCG will find out if it is successful when the HSJ Awards take place in London on November 6th.
Pam Green, Chief Operating Officer for North East Essex CCG, said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for these two projects.
“We feel strongly that working in partnership within our North East Essex Health & Wellbeing Alliance is helping us to find sustainable solutions to tricky issues, that we can implement together for the benefit of our community.”
The HSJ awards recognise healthcare excellence across the UK. The Tendring Mental Health Hub and High Intensity Users projects were shortlisted for the awards last year.
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