NHS Head Suggests Future of NHS Working Closely with Support Groups

Ella Pickover

November 24, 2021

Joined up social care and NHS support could eventually see people in need having access to a "one-stop shop" where they could get support for health needs, as well as a handyman to help them live healthily and independently, the head of the NHS in England has said.

Amanda Pritchard praised the work of community urgent response teams – where council teams, together with the NHS, have been able to tackle some less serious urgent care such as falls, cuts and end of life care.

The NHS has set a challenge to ensure that as many 111 and 999 patients as possible will be seen by urgent community response teams, where appropriate.

This will help free up ambulances – which have been under significant pressure in recent months – for more serious calls.

Ms Pritchard said areas which have piloted the programme successfully could start to envisage "what’s next?", which could include a "one-stop shop" model of care where someone in need could get a "whole package of support within 12 hours" or "a handyman going round during the day".

In a speech to the National Children and Adult Services virtual conference, Ms Pritchard said: "There are some great examples out there of how NHS and councils are working hand in hand – care workers alongside clinicians – to provide a rapid two-hour response, 24 hours a day, to those who need it."

"Without that, I saw this myself on a visit yesterday, the kind of people we’re talking about would often require an ambulance response, in some cases a conveyance to A&E and an admission at the end of the journey.

"We know for frailer people in particular, one night can turn into a few while the care package is worked out and put in place for that individual."

"Every one of those nights increases the risk of deconditioning, and it is not the right place for people to be if they don’t need to be, not to mention the fact that of course it’s upsetting to be away from your familiar surroundings.2

"Urgent community response teams are crucial to our vision for urgent emergency care."

The models are now in place in 25 of 42 care systems across England.

Speaking about a visit to Leicestershire and Rutland, where teams have already supported almost 12,000 people through this model, she added: "What I saw is social care trained to respond to people who have fallen, nursing and therapy staff in the team provided clinical observations, assessment, follow up checks, and together they can handle a wide range of situations where somebody’s health and well-being suddenly deteriorates – for example, needing urgent pain relief, wound care, end of life care, or they have a breakdown of unpaid care arrangements."

"We really want to bring the benefits of this unique mix of skills to more patients over the coming months."

"We recently launched a 100-day challenge with urgent community response teams and ambulance services across the country to try and make sure that teams get as many appropriate cases referred directly from 999 and 111 as possible, so that they’re able to help more patients in their homes, and free up ambulance crews to respond to more serious calls."

"In Warrington for example, the community team have access to the ambulance service stack, which means that they’re able to take category 3 and category 4 patients, directly reviewing and identifying which patients they would be best placed to respond to and often meaning that an ambulance response is not required."

She said services with established urgent care responses are in a position to ask "what’s next"?

"The 'what’s next?' could definitely be in a whole number of different directions because the core of that service is bringing together people with a really complementary, but different skills, so that the person who needs support, whatever that happens to be, gets it through a one-stop shop model."

"That could be about equipment being provided on the day, it could be about handyman going around during the day, it could be about a whole package of support being put in within 12 hours."

This article contains information from PA Media.

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