GP practices are working together to launch a new home visiting service (HVS) for some of the most vulnerable patients across areas of south eastern Hampshire.
The new weekday-only service aims to provide a faster NHS response and treatment for housebound patients who need to be seen on the day.
It will involve GPs, nurses and paramedics visiting patients with an urgent but non-emergency need earlier in the day than the previous home visits carried out by doctors from their surgery.
It is hoped the HVS will also reduce the risk of patients needing to go to hospital or having to stay in hospital overnight if they are admitted.
Similar successful schemes have already operated in Gosport and Portsmouth – resulting in improved patient services and experience and big benefits as well for hard-pressed GP practices.
The existing Gosport HVS and a similar service in Portsmouth have helped to reduce hospital admissions, improving health outcomes for patients, easing pressure on the NHS and making a better use of staff resources.
A patient or carer phones their surgery requesting a home visit if they are too poorly to attend practice.
The receptionist will take the patient’s details, a brief synopsis of the problem and inform the duty doctor – who will decide who is best placed to visit him/her.
Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern and Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have invited all GP practices in its areas to work together in geographical clusters covering, in most cases, at least 30,000 patients, to set up a local home visiting service.
This service is provided by staff at the practice working with nurses from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Two new schemes are now covering:
In the weeks ahead, it is planned to roll out the scheme to Fareham, East Hants (involving Petersfield, Clanfield, Horndean and Rowlands Castle), North East Hampshire (the Whitehill and Bordon area) and Waterlooville.
Home Visiting Service schemes are also planned elsewhere, including Havant.
HVS is operating Monday to Fridays in daytime, but will have different hours of operation in each locality.
Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern and Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are using ‘transformation funding’ to provide new ways of working and to help GP practices make home visiting more efficient, increasing both their capacity and improving future sustainability at a challenging time for staff recruitment and retention.
Dr Donal Collins, who has helped lead on new models of care working in Hampshire, said the key objectives were to provide a more responsive and timely response to patients who needed a home visit for an urgent, but not emergency, health need.
He said: “From the initial schemes that operated in Gosport and Portsmouth, we know that the HVS can and will mean that many patients are seen earlier in the day – which helps prevent avoidable admissions to Queen Alexandra Hospital (QA), less overnight hospital stays, a reduced need for ambulance journeys and an improved flow of patients through hospital.
“As the pressure on GP practices continues to grow, including home visits, and with the challenges of recruiting and retaining GPs, the NHS has to find ways of moving more health and care services into the community and focusing more on preventative services.
“Urgent home visiting services are predominantly accessed by elderly patients. But GPs do not have the capacity to visit patients early in the day, as they are busy in surgery clinics.
“This can lead to patients instead having to go to hospital, where they could be kept in overnight while their condition is assessed – putting pressure on bed availability. This may have been avoidable if the patient had been seen earlier in the day.
“We know that the scheme is also improving capacity for GPs in their own practices, relieving some of the pressure there.”
In Portsmouth, GPs involved in a similar home visiting scheme, identified 413 visits where they felt an urgent visit prevented a patient having to go to hospital – 27% of the 1,535 visits made, representing an £890,000 saving to the health system in the six-month period.