A GP-led scheme has reduced the number of unnecessary trips to A&E by residents in 28 Staffordshire care homes by up to 40%.
The Care Home Support scheme started in December to reduce the amount of ambulance call outs and visits to A&E, with the North Staffordshire GP Federation initially focusing on the 28 Staffordshire homes that recorded the most casualty visits.
NHS Stoke-on-Trent CCG and NHS North Staffordshire CCG provided £700,000 winter pressure money for the pilot, which runs until September.
GP lead Dr Chandra Kanneganti said that before the pilot started ‘every third ambulance (call out) could be from a care home’.
But, he said: ‘In December the attendance of care home residents from the 28 homes reduced by 40% in unnecessary admissions.’
He said: ‘We are working with the 28 care homes to help them and support them.’
If successful there are plans to extend it to other care homes and it could see practices sub-contracted to provide the service.
Under the scheme, a GP triages calls from care homes and decides if the patient needs an urgent GP visit or can wait to see their own GP, or a nurse practitioner or senior psychiatric trust.
The triage works within 15 to 20 minutes of receiving a call and the scheme runs between 8am and 6pm, said Dr Kanneganti.
He said care homes traditionally call GPs ‘to cover themselves’ and struggle with workforce and high use of agency staff.
The new scheme follows concerns raised by the CQC’s local service review report on Stoke-on-Trent, which found: ‘There was some confusion, particularly among private residential, nursing home and domiciliary care providers about who to contact if a person they cared for became unwell.’
The report focused on care for the over 65s and found that a shortage of GPs also contributed to the elderly attending A&E. They were often referred by their GPs directly from care homes or their own homes, it added.