A new service is helping patients stay out of hospital by treating them at home through a community paramedic scheme.
The service was developed by Encompass in partnership with South East Coast Ambulance Service and means GPs will have more time to proactively manage patients with complex or long-term conditions.
Launched in Whitstable last spring, the service was rolled out in Faversham, Canterbury, Ash and Sandwich in November 2015.
The programme sees teams of community paramedics undertaking some of the urgent GP home visits on behalf of surgeries. And, on average, they are visiting more than 100 patients per week.
GPs 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.
The job of the community paramedic is to help an ageing population stay out of hospital and remain independent, thinking about patients’ mental wellbeing as well as their physical health and working closely with GPs and other primary care providers to create a more joined-up service.
Dr Jacky Buchanan, from Whitstable Medical Practice, said that community paramedics can often see patients quicker during the day, in the morning when a GP would not normally visit until the afternoon, which frees up GP time to see more patients with complex or long-term conditions.
She said: “The paramedics are able to quickly asses and treat patients who have more straightforward conditions, such as those who have had a minor fall or chest infection.
“This means that GPs can become more proactive by visiting patients with long-term conditions and making sure they have what they need before they request a visit.
“The scheme will change the way a GP service works, from being less reactive to more proactive. Hopefully by doing this we can try and prevent problems from becoming a serious issue or a crisis, avoid the patient having to go to hospital, and giving patients better overall care without unnecessary stress or discomfort.”
Whitstable community paramedic Steve Hulks 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.”
Dr John Ribchester, Encompass Chair and Clinical Lead, said the scheme was a good example of transforming care locally. He said: “The figures have been impressive and we expect it will prove very successful.
“Since the programme was rolled out, the community paramedics have been seeing between 100 and 130 patients per week. Patient and staff feedback has been incredibly positive and early indications show a reduction in the number of patients being taken to hospital.
“In a survey, 100 per cent of patients asked said they would be completely happy to see that paramedic again. More than 80 per cent of paramedics feel integrating with GPs has increased their primary care confidence, and 75 per cent feel they have been able to provide a better service to the community and patients.
“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.”
This new way of working will mean that patients can receive more of their care from their local surgery, without the need to travel to hospital.
Original post by Canterbury NHS