Healthcare staff at a new Northampton call centre are to help bed blocking patients get home from hospital more quickly.
The Single Point of Access (SPA) Service was launched by the NHS yesterday, allowing trained healthcare staff to gather any information missing from a patient’s assessment form and put home care in place, as opposed to busy hospital staff doing it themselves.
Based at John Dryden House in The Lakes, the call handlers should therefore be able to resolve problems speedily and get patients home, freeing beds on wards in the process.
Dr Emma Clancy of NHS Nene said: “This is a very exciting piece of work.
“By doing this we will be better able to bring people home from hospital as quickly as possible and support them there safely.”
The call centre is a result of work by NHS Corby and NHS Nene and Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Northamptonshire County Council and Olympus Care Services.
Previously, hospital patients who were medically fit for discharge – but who needed support packages from health/community services - would be assessed by a number of agencies using an assessment form.
The patients’ forms were then discussed in a daily meeting between the senior decision makers from the partner agencies – but delays could sometimes occur if the form didn’t have sufficient information on it to make a decision for the patient on that day.
The SPA should help speed up the process because instead of the patient’s needs being discussed at a meeting held only once per day it will instead be acted on by a SPA Call Centre staffed by experienced health and social care staff who are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and who will sort out any queries with the different agencies involved right away.
Referrals to the SPA Service will also happen earlier in the patient’s journey so that any issues that are identified can be addressed early on and before they result in delays.
KGH’s chief operating officer, Rebecca Brown, said: “The aim of the SPA is to ensure that all of the agencies involved in discharge work very closely together to address patients’ needs.
“There is nothing more frustrating for a patient, and for their family, than to be told that an individual is medically fit to leave hospital but will have to wait for a variety of necessary assessments and care packages to be co-ordinated and put in place.
“We hope the new SPA reduces the delays to patient discharge by giving us a clear picture – earlier in the patient’s journey – of exactly what needs to be done so the teams involved can put in place measures as soon as possible.”