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Community Paramedics delivering new model of care

19 January 2016

Community ParamedicA new model of care being introduced in East Kent is seeing a reduction in the number of patients being taken to hospital.

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’s, (SECAmb) new Community Paramedic Programme which went live this month in Whitstable, Canterbury, Faversham and Deal is helping to keep, on average, 15 patients per day out of hospital and treated closer to home.

The reduction in the number of patients being taken to hospital is being achieved through closer working with GP surgeries in the area.

The programme sees teams of paramedics and paramedic practitioners (PPs) undertaking some of the GP home visits on behalf of surgeries while also being responsible for most of the 999 emergency calls in the area.

The GPs will determine which patients are suitable for a paramedic visit, allowing the patient to receive a quicker response and GPs to focus on seeing patients in their surgeries.

If seen at home by a paramedic or a PP, patients will also have access to additional clinical investigations, including 12-lead ECGs, which would not be available with a GP home visit.

Whitstable Paramedic Practitioner Steve Hulks, who has been involved with the programme since its inception said: “Working alongside our GP and community service teams in this way, you feel part of a whole team working together for the benefit of the patient.

“A really good example of this approach working well was when we received a 999 call involving an elderly man who had suffered a fall.  As I had already seen him previously on a GP home visit, I was fully aware of the patient’s previous medical history, which we have access to, and was then able to make an informed decision. This meant the patient could be kept at home and referred back to the GP the following day.”

The Community Paramedic teams will also respond to almost all 999 calls from their communities. Being locally-based, will allow the teams to build closer relationships with patients, local community teams and GP practices, as well as providing a more responsive and effective service.

This new model builds on a pilot which took place in Whitstable, one of the NHS Vanguard sites which received central funding.

Whitstable Medical Practice at Estuary Park was one of the practices involved in the Vanguard programme.

Senior partner Dr John Ribchester said it was a very important step and fully in tune with its model of care under the Vanguard scheme which aims to transform how care is delivered locally.

“The figures have been impressive and we expect it will prove very successful,” he said.

“In our first week we referred 32 patients to be assessed and 20 of them were dealt with by the SECAmb paramedic practitioners, 10 were dealt with at home in liaison with the doctor and only two needed to be referred on for admission.”

“The team also dealt with the referred 999 calls in the area and the transfer to A&E was also down so it has been an excellent start.”

Regional Operations Manager Chris Stamp added: “We’re really pleased with the early stages of this new way of working which ensures better levels of care for our patients and means that where possible more patients are treated in their own homes without the need for hospital treatment.

“We’re looking forward to the further roll out of the scheme across our region as SECAmb is committed to innovation to improve care and experience for our patients and to increase local ties with GPs and other local community services.”

Similar models are already being trialled in other areas of Kent. Plans are being developed to roll these out across the whole region from later this year.

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