A new paramedic practitioner service is helping patients stay out of hospital by treating them at home.
The programme sees teams of paramedics and paramedic practitioners undertaking some of the GP home visits on behalf of surgeries while also being responsible for most of the 999 emergency calls in the area.
GPs will 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.
Whitstable Paramedic Practitioner 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.
“A really good example of this approach working well was when we received a 999 call involving an elderly man who had suffered a fall. As I had already seen him previously on a GP home visit, I was fully aware of the patient’s previous medical history, which we have access to, and was then able to make an informed decision. This meant the patient could be kept at home and referred back to the GP the following day.”
Dr John Ribchester 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.
“In our first week we referred 32 patients to be assessed and 20 of them were dealt with by the paramedic practitioners, 10 were dealt with at home in liaison with the doctor and only two needed to be referred on for admission.
“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.”
Chris Stamp, Regional Operations Manager from South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), said: “We’re really pleased with the early stages of this new way of working which ensures better levels of care for our patients and means that where possible more patients are treated in their own homes without the need for hospital treatment.
“We’re looking forward to the further roll out of the scheme across our region as SECAmb is committed to innovation to improve care and experience for our patients and to increase local ties with GPs and other local community services.”
Similar models are already being trialled in other areas of Kent. Plans are being developed to roll these out across the whole region.