New out of hours aid

Dr Phil Earnshaw, chairman of Wakefield GP commissioning group
Dr Phil Earnshaw, chairman of Wakefield GP commissioning group

A NEW out of hours service enabling terminally-ill people to be admitted to hospices across the district is being launched next month.

The move is part of a strategy by health chiefs to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and provide more appropriate care for patients.

Dr Phil Earnshaw, chairman of Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group which runs GP services across the district, said the move was one of many designed to provide more care for people closer to home.

He said: “Our hospices are amazing, but currently they only have the capacity to assess and admit patients five days a week. Marie Curie has been commissioned to provide an out-of-hours rapid response on evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

“At the moment families and carers often end up ringing for an ambulance and patients end up in A&E, which is a busy department and not always the most appropriate place.

“But now Marie Curie will be able to come out and co-ordinate with the services already in place, so that if loved ones wish to die at home or be admitted to a hospice then hopefully we can actually start to deliver that.”

Stephen Eames, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust interim chief executive, said: “It’s something that will both improve the quality of end of life care, and also reduce demand on hospital beds. A&E is a busy place, and it isn’t the right environment for someone who needs end of life care.”

Dr Earnshaw added that the initiative is part of a wider push to provide more care for people closer to home, which involves the CCG, the hospital trust and Wakefield Council working closer together.

He said: “It means lots of smaller changes to make care at home work a lot better. For example, we don’t want elderly patients coming to hospital in an unplanned way.

“It’s quite salutory so see how elderly people struggle if they lose their independence, so if you put someone in bed for a few days their ability to walk and care for themselves can deteriorate quickly, and the social care they may have in place at home gets allocated elsewhere.

“They can go from leading an independent life to becoming a dependent person, so if they need hospital treatment, it’s better for them if it’s planned, so we all know why they are going there, how long for and when they are coming out, which means commissioners, the hospital and the local authority working together.”