Health Hub in Clacton could reduce pressure on over-stretched NHS in north Essex

Scheme could reduce pressure on hospitals.

Scheme could reduce pressure on hospitals. - Credit: IAN BURT

Health bosses have welcomed a volunteer-led scheme launched in Clacton which could help reduce pressure on over-stretched hospitals across north Essex.

The Health and Wellbeing Hub at Clacton Hospital’s minor injuries unit was launched yesterday by Colchester Community Voluntary Services.

It will help refer patients to voluntary and community groups, as well as more official services, which can help them when medical professionals no longer can.

The scheme aims to prevent hospital admissions in the first place by helping people to access specialist advice in advance, such as by directing diabetics to Diabetes UK.

However it could also help speed up hospital discharges, such as a patients who has had a fall by having volunteers go around their home to help with shopping or collecting post.

Often hospital beds are “blocked” by patients who are medically well enough to be discharged but do not have the social care support in place to allow them to live at home, forcing them to stay within the NHS.

This then makes it difficult for new patients to be accommodated on wards, with a further knock-on effect being that elective surgery cases get cancelled, and also leads to an increased risk of hospital-acquired infections and other conditions.

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The scheme also aims to prevent hospital admissions in the first place by helping people to access specialist advice in advance, such as by directing diabetics to Diabetes UK.

Claire Cornell, lead officer for the project at the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are delighted to be part of this offer to patients to help them find vital support from voluntary groups.

“Sometimes it is self-confidence or useful experience from others that can make a major improvement to someone’s quality of life.

“When people are helped to stay healthier and less dependent on the NHS or social care, everyone benefits. We hope to be able to expand the service if it proves successful.”

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust, added: “We support and endorse any initiative which helps patients to regain their independence and confidence as quickly as possible.

“The scheme demonstrates what a valuable contribution charities have to make to the health and wellbeing of patients.

“Schemes like this will increase the throughput of patients but there are also steps the trust is taking to reduce unnecessary delays.

“It is important to stress that patients will be discharged only when they no longer have a need for acute hospital care and appropriate arrangements have been put in place.”

The initiative is being run in partnership with Anglian Community Enterprise and Tendring Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and supported by Essex County Council.

Team members, including volunteers, will be on site from 10am until 1pm Monday to Friday and out of hours a helpline will run weekdays from 9am until 4pm along with an online self-service directory.

It is part of the My Social Prescription project, trialed across north Essex over the past two years.

In other parts of the country it has seen accident and emergency attendances fall 21%, hospital admissions reduce by 9% and outpatients appointments go down by 29%.