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Vital service to continue

An innovative project is set to help even more people to remain at home following a 999 call after NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agreed to fund the initiative permanently.

Following a successful six-month trial, the early intervention vehicle (EIV) will now extend its service to operate between 7am and 7pm, 365 days a year. This follows a CCG governing body decision to invest a further £540,000 per year over the next three years in the service.

The EIV is a collaboration between the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH), James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) and the county councils in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The initiative sees EEAST dispatch an emergency medical technician, accompanied by an occupational therapist or physiotherapist from either ECCH, JPUH or the county councils, to specifically identified patients.

The team provide support to patients in their home with the aim of preventing a hospital admission or a trip to the emergency department, and also make onward referrals for extra health and social care support where necessary. Where a patient has fallen, EIV staff will provide equipment and offer help and guidance to avoid falls in the future, in turn improving people’s quality of life and reducing pressure on NHS resources.

Cath Byford, deputy chief officer/ director of commissioning with the CCG, said: “We are delighted to be able to recommission this important service. It has already made a difference to scores of people from across Great Yarmouth and Waveney by providing them with the best possible care following a 999 call, as well as help and guidance to help prevent repeat falls in the future.

“The service is also making sure that people receive the right support to stay in their own home wherever possible, in turn helping make best use of NHS resources while minimising unnecessary hospital admissions. The EIV is a great example of different organisations working together to improve people’s qualities of life and we are really pleased it has had such a positive impact so far.”

Terry Hicks, EEAST Sector Head for Norfolk and Waveney, said: “We are delighted to be expanding this service to help patients in Norfolk and Waveney. One in five of all 999 calls to the ambulance service are to patients who have suffered a fall, and an emergency ambulance is not always required as a response.

“This project puts an alternative pathway in place so that they can stay at home by putting measures in place such as hand rails, removing trip hazards and reviewing a patient’s medication.”

ECCH’s director of operations Adele Madin said: “We are delighted that, thanks to the CCG’s funding, we will be able to continue providing this service. With an aging population who often feel socially isolated and may be living with long term conditions, our physiotherapists and occupational therapists play an increasingly key role in helping people to get mobile again after a fall and maintain their independence at home.

“This service is a great example of how working in an integrated way with our NHS and social care colleagues means we are more efficient and effective, offering our patients the best possible care when they most need it.”

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Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG