“The Urgent Care Programme Board brings together partner organisations from the health and social care system to set the vision and strategic direction for urgent and emergency care services across Berkshire West and oversee delivery of the vision. It also has responsibility for ensuring delivery of the constitutional standard that no patient should wait in A&E for more than 4 hours from arrival to discharge, transfer or admission and holds partners to account for their part in delivering this”. (annual report 14/15)
- 4 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Berkshire West
- Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust (RBFT)
- Reading Borough Council, West Berkshire Council and Wokingham Borough Council
- South Central Ambulance Trust (SCAS) and
- Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (BHFT)
I attend Board meetings to try and ensure that voluntary sector providers are considered as part of the discussions and solutions to continuing hospital pressures.
The “system” relies on the people who have health or social care support needs being seen by the right agencies in the right place. We hear that people go to A&E because they cannot get a GP appointment or they phone 999 when the 111 NHS non-emergency number is more appropriate, or they stay in hospital longer than necessary while waiting for appropriate care in the community. The Board is the strategic body that focuses on the flow of patients in and out of hospital and the prevention of inappropriate admissions.
How can the voluntary sector help?
Already the British Red Cross and Age UK Berkshire have projects in Berkshire West to ease the system. For example, the BRC Prevention of Admission to Hospital scheme (known as PaTH) operates at the front door of the hospital and takes people home who either need transport or who might have to be admitted for social reasons. They will transport home, make sure the person is settled, has shopping in, pick up prescriptions, and so on. The Board allocated resilience monies to this scheme.
I have started discussing a small project in A&E where volunteers could support elderly patients who are waiting or under observation. If an elderly person is brought in by ambulance and they do not have a carer or family member with them, it can be very frightening and confusing. The volunteer would keep the patient company while they wait, reassuring them and getting food and drink when needed. A&E staff could then focus on the medical needs of the patient.
If you have any ideas about how the voluntary and community sector could contribute to the Urgent Care Programme Board priorities, do give me a call on 0118 937 2273. The Board meets every month and I have asked for an agenda item on how we can be more involved.