People living in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) who are unwell and cannot get to their GP surgery to be seen can call the practice first thing in the morning to request an early home visit.
Since the Early Home Visiting Service started in April 2017, it has seen over 1000 patients.
The service was set up so that patients who might need to go to hospital for a check can do so and return home again on the same day. Historically, home visits are done during late morning, which means patients may not arrive into hospital until the middle of the day and can end up staying overnight unnecessarily.
“It takes time to make a proper assessment of a patient’s condition, both by primary care professionals and by the day-patient team at the hospital,” said Dr Ian Orpen, a Bath GP and the Clinical Chair of Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (BaNES CCG).
“If we start this process at the very beginning of the day, there is a much higher chance that if a patient does need to go to hospital, they will be seen and be able to go straight home again, where they will recover faster and feel more comfortable,” he added.
The service pilot is a result of collaboration between BaNES CCG, GP practices, B&NES Enhanced Medical Services (BEMS) and the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.
The patient, or someone close to them, can call the GP practice to request an urgent home visit, and surgery staff will assess whether their clinical need is appropriate for the service. Depending on where a person lives in B&NES, they might be visited by a GP, a Nurse Practitioner or by a Specialist Paramedic.
Patients who have used the service already have had a very positive response, calling it “brilliant care” that they “would definitely recommend”. Several patients said they would have called 999 or visited A&E had the service not been available to them.
One patient said that “the service was really good, everything was explained really well and I was seen within the hour, as opposed to waiting until lunchtime.”
Dr Andrew Smith, Chief Executive of BEMS said: “Incorporating paramedics and nurses into the wider team means patients can be seen more quickly and a new system we are using means we can speed up patient care further with patient information being fed back to their GP immediately.”
“Early results from a pilot showed that patients were seeing real benefit from the new service, rating it well over 4 out of 5, based on questions around time taken to be seen, quality of the treatment and the knowledge of the paramedic/GP. The doctor’s surgeries said that it was having a really positive impact on their working day and workload. As we enter into a busy time of year for doctor’s surgeries this extra support will be invaluable for both patients and doctor’s surgery staff alike.”
The initiative is designed to help balance some of the pressures that GPs and the wider health sector are facing as a result of stretched NHS budgets and an increased demand for services. The Early Home Visiting Service will free up time for those GPs who remain based in the surgery seeing patients who can get there themselves, allowing time for longer appointments.