The Chief Executive of NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), Sir Andrew Dillon visited an innovative new health organisation on Friday 11 November. The VIP was in Whitstable seeing how the future of national healthcare is being shaped by East Kent, after GPs across the area were given Government funding to test new ways of keeping people out of hospital.
13 GP practices across the Faversham, Whitstable, Canterbury , Ash and Sandwich areas have joined forces with social care teams, health providers and voluntary services to create a new, co-ordinated healthcare body – one of just 14 places in the UK chosen to innovate a new model of healthcare known as multi-speciality community providers (MCPs).
The new organisation, called Encompass, is being led by local GPs and will be responsible for finding new ways to improve local healthcare, focusing on prevention and interventions that support people at home and in their local community.
In bringing together professionals from GP surgeries, social care bodies, voluntary sector and health & wellbeing organisations, Encompass will, for the first time, ensure residents’ healthcare needs are co-ordinated between each agency.
Since being given the cash injection in 2015, Encompass has started several projects with various groups of patients to avoid hospital admissions.
Encompass is currently trialling a pilot on integrated health and social care – a process in which 50 local patients have a single, co-ordinated care plan which everyone involved in their care can access. This saves time for those treating them as well as saving the patients from having to repeat information. It also means that multiple conditions can be dealt with at once rather than having to make different appointments with different people.
Each agency will know exactly what the other is doing and what impact they are having on a patient’s health.
It is also introducing “social prescribing” – whereby some patients are offered non-medical services such as support, leisure or social activities to improve mental and physical health and reduce their need to visit GPs or go to hospital later on.
Other new trials include running wound clinics – where patients are given specialist advice on caring for wounds after an accident, due to the high instances of people returning to their GP or hospital to have them seen to. Similar clinics are being run for people who leave hospital with catheters – another high cause of re-admission.
Encompass and the other MCPs are being given special funding by the Government to test the new models for three years – after which, if successful, they could be rolled out nationally.
The GP at the head of the organisation, Dr John Ribchester from Whitstable Medical Practice, said: “We were very pleased to welcome Sir Andrew Dillon to see what we are doing in East Kent. This is a hugely exciting opportunity for Kent to be at the forefront of not only influencing the future of the whole NHS, but also to improve the health of our own residents.
“For example, mental health issues can often lead to physical illnesses or the need for support at home through social care. Likewise, someone who needs social care support is more likely to end up in hospital with a physical issue.
“By identifying all these issues and formulating a joint approach, we can ensure we intervene more effectively and that patients have exactly the right plan for their care, that they know everybody has agreed on.
“Social prescribing for those with mental health or loneliness issues can play an enormous part in restoring people to good health – which, in turn, reduces hospital admissions and the need to visit your GP, then see a social worker, or a counsellor. They will, for the first time, all be working together on your healthcare, with a single patient care plan.”
For further information about encompass and its work visit www.encompass-mcp.co.uk or follow @encompass-mcp on twitter.