£2.6m plan for winter health services in Norfolk and Suffolk unveiled

The aim is to stop needless hospital admissions over the winter Picture: NICK BUTCHER

The aim is to stop needless hospital admissions over the winter Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

Five health groups in Norfolk and Suffolk are set to pump £2.6million in preparing for the coming winter it has emerged, with plans to dramatically cut hospital admissions.

The five clinical commissioning groups in Great Yarmouth and Waveney and Norfolk are investing the seven figure sum exclusively in winter provision.

One of the key elements is extending the early intervention vehicle (EIV) – an ambulance which is called to homes where someone has suffered a fall – with the aim of preventing people having to go to hospital unless needed.

Currently around 78% of patients who fall will be taken to hospital, but the EIV trial over six months last winter brought that down to just 23% – less than a third than those currently going.

From October 1 the service will run seven days a week all year round, instead of the four days a week seen last winter.

Cath Byford from the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), said: “I believe it will have a great impact on our vulnerable people who don’t need hospital but need help.

“This is about what’s out there in terms of best practice around the country and also what we have learned from last winter.”

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Alongside the EIV extension, a winter room director has been appointed who will lead work across the area.

A report prepared for Thursday’s Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board said that the biggest challenge last winter was the amount of community care available, which meant people were going to hospital and taking up valuable beds there.

To combat that, long-term care assessments will take place at home instead of in hospital, and two care co-ordinators will be employed to help discharge patients from hospital earlier to prevent bed blocking.

An increase in community beds is also being lined up.

Richard Watson, deputy chief officer at Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs, said final decisions on its winter projects will take place next week.

He added: “We would encourage people to do their bit to support their NHS during this busy time.

“Eligible people, including those with a long-term health condition, those aged 65 and over, some young children and pregnant women should have their free flu vaccination. This could help avoid an unnecessary hospital admission and reduce pressure on the NHS.”

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