We're getting the NHS ready for winter

We're getting ready for winter - and that means making sure the local health 'system' can cope with more illness and accidents.

NHS and social care organisations are working in close partnership to deliver a range of initiatives and services to ensure patients receive the best possible care.

Among the measures already in place is the Urgent Care Centre(UCC) at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital which reopened this month after a successful trial last winter when it helped meet rising demand and prompted positive feedbackfrom patients and their families.

Initiatives under way or planned include:

  • CCG-led integrated care teams coordinating health and social care services at a local level to ensure vulnerable elderly patients and those with long-term conditions receive home- or community-based support to help reduce hospital admissions. This also involves working closely with charities and the voluntary sector
  • Henderson Ward on the Julian Hospital site in Norwich will reopen temporarily in December to provide post-acute rehabilitation beds. It will be a therapy-led ward run by the NNUH in partnership with Norfolk Social Services’ Norfolk First Support (NFS) reablement service, staffed by nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists
  • Four extra beds opened from today at Kelling Hospital, near Holt, for patients requiring extra care and rehabilitation before returning home, and six beds on Foxley Ward in Dereham are planned to open from January 1
  • The Urgent Care Centre which will treat patients with ‘minor illnesses’ who do not require attention from a hospital specialist. Instead they will be seen by GPs and community health and care specialists who will treat them and ensure they return home safely
  • Twenty-nine new student paramedics are being employed by the East of England Ambulance Trust in central Norfolk, joining the 51 currently working in the area
  • Norfolk Social Services has streamlined access to its Norfolk First Support reablement service to enable non-complex discharges to be set up more quickly. This includes NFS staff working evenings and weekends at the urgent care centre
  • The Norfolk County Council social work team based at the NNUH is working extended hours seven days a week until the end of March next year
  • Additional clinical staff in A&E, and additional diagnostics support to A&E

Dr Anoop Dhesi, chairman of North Norfolk CCG, said: “Winter is always a difficult time for the NHS, but the urgent care system in Norfolk is coming under unprecedented pressure this year and staff deserve huge praise for their efforts in extremely demanding circumstances.

“By working in close partnership, and pooling our expertise, we are all doing our best to ensure that patients continue to receive the best possible care.”

People with conditions which do not need to be seen by a hospital specialist will be taken through to the UCC. Its consulting rooms are staffed by a mix of GPs, nurses and therapists from Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), mental health nurses from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and social workers from Norfolk County Council.

After treatment, they will ensure the right care is in place for the patient to go home.