July 29 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
A new healthcare system for Tendring residents will allow patients to be treated in their own homes and free up hospital beds.
Advanced Nurse Practitioners, working from the Clacton District and Fryatt (Harwich) hospitals and on home visits, will diagnose and prescribe treatment for a range of problems, taking pressure off over-stretched GPs.
A Rapid Assessment Unit at Clacton Hospital will allow more diagnostic tests to be carried out closer to home, making trips to Colchester unneccessary. Both community hospitals will have wards converted to step-up beds, allowing them to have direct admissions.
The hospital upgrade work is expected to cost several hundred thousand pounds.
The seven-day model from the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEE CCG) and health providers Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE) is due to go live on August 1.
When fully operational an estimated four to seven patients daily will avoid admission to Colchester General Hospital.
Dr Shane Gordon, chief clinical officer at NEE CCG, said: “This is a complete change in approach to care delivery.
“Currently people can spend up to three weeks in hospital. During that time they can lose the skills to look after themselves at home which is really harmful.
“There should be real benefits in the experience of local people, some of whom will now be able to get care in their own home town.”
The system will also alleviate pressure on the ambulance service with fewer trips from Tendring to Colchester, allowing ambulances to be released within the district more quickly.
The project is also supported by Essex County Council (ECC), which will jointly commission some beds at community hospitals in a bid to integrate health and social care services.
Nicola Carmichael, director of operations at ACE, added: “We are planning the system to be flexible to be able to cope with varying demands.
“Of the anticipated 5-10 referrals a day we expect one-third will need step-up care either in Colchester or Tendring, with two-thirds treated at home. There will of course be seasonal variations, with perhaps twice as many patients during the winter.
“People will be looked at in terms of their immediate problem but there will be a more rounded approach so we can also look at their living environemnt.”
Staff numbers will remain broadly the same across the local health service with money being invested in upgrading nurses’ skills.
See Dr Shane Gordon’s health column on EA Health p5.