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New Clinical Response Team puts GPs at the heart of emergency care

8th May 2014 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in

A new Clinical Response Team has been launched this week that will put family doctors at the heart of emergency care and will see GPs responding to appropriate 999 calls instead of paramedics.

The pilot is the first service originating from the Leicester City Better Care Fund, a national initiative which aims to reduce hospital admissions by delivering integrated health and social care services.

The Clinical Response Team is a team of GPs, employed by SSAFA, that will be working with East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) to respond to approximately 700 calls per month between the hours of 8am and 8pm, 7 days per week.

Paramedics are highly qualified but they do not have the advanced level of knowledge that a GP does and they have a reduced ability to utilise alternative care options. As a result, the patient is taken to hospital when it is not required. With a GP attending the patient, fewer patients will be admitted to hospital because the GP will be able to treat them there and then and arrange for any care they need at home or in their local community.

The Clinical Response Team will be responding to 999 calls that meet an agreed set of criteria to ensure it is safe and appropriate for them to do so. These criteria will include patients aged 60 years of age and above, younger adults with three or more health conditions and patients of any age with dementia. These groups are often admitted to hospital unnecessarily and would benefit from being cared for in their own home.

On calling 999, the patient will be assessed by EMAS’ Emergency Operations Centre. Using agreed criteria the centre will pass the calls to the Clinical Assessment Team who will determine if it is appropriate for the patient to be attended by the team and will despatch the GP. If a call is assessed as not appropriate the call will be returned directly to EMAS who will despatch an ambulance immediately.

The GP who treats the patient will have access to the patient’s GP record so they will be able to make properly informed decisions about the treatment that the patient may need. They will have appropriate equipment to enable them to assess and treat the patient at the scene and will be able to arrange for the patient to continue to receive any treatment at home or nearby in the community.

Professor Azhar Farooqi, Chair of Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are delighted to get the local Better Care Fund off the ground with this exciting service, ahead of national timescales. For older people in particular, being admitted to hospital can be distressing and it is often not the best place for them and lengthens their recovery. The Clinical Response Team will mean more patients are treated closer to home, when it is safe and appropriate, which patients have told us is important to them.”

Adrian Healey of East Midlands Ambulance Service said: “The scheme is an excellent example of joint working and provides a more appropriate level of care when an immediate emergency response is not appropriate for the patient’s needs.”

Robert Gorringe, Deputy Director of UK Operations for SSAFA Care CIC said “SSAFA Care CIC are extremely proud to be working with Leicester City CCG and East Midlands Ambulance Service to deliver this innovative and unique service. I believe this truly integrated model will enable us to bring the right care to patients, in the right place at the right time and will be a blueprint for others to follow.

The £3.8bn Better Care Fund (formerly the Integration Transformation Fund) was announced by the Government in the June 2013 spending round, to support health and social care services to work more closely together. Leicester City will have access to £23.261m of this fund which has been formed from existing commissioning budgets.

In Leicester City, the Better Care Fund applies to citizens who are aged 60 years of age and above, younger adults with three or more health conditions and patients of any age with dementia. These criteria will be used to help determine which patients the Clinical Response Team will visit. An ageing population and increasing numbers of people with one or more long term conditions means that more people are being admitted to hospital and residential homes than ever before.

The vision for the Leicester City Better Care Fund is to deliver a seamlessly integrated service created around all of a citizen’s needs, including mental health and wellbeing. In doing so, the Fund will reduce hospital admissions and the need for long term residential care, while at the same time providing a more positive experience and a better quality of care.

If you would like to learn more about our plans for the Leicester City Better Care Fund, you can do so by reading the local strategy.

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