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GPs provide full-time visiting service in bid to cut emergency admissions

GPs in Lancashire are being employed full-time to provide a home visiting day service in a bid to bring down A&E admission rates.

The pilot scheme, commissioned by Blackburn with Darwen CCG, involves two employed GPs visiting 15 patients a day. The referrals to the acute visiting service (AVS) come from the local ambulance service and from other GPs.

The service runs from Monday to Friday from 8.30am-6.30pm and the GPs treat patients - typically older people of those with long-term conditions - or give them advice to keep them out of hospital.

The CCG hopes to cut urgent admissions to East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust by 5% the first year of the pilot and by 10% in year two.

Dr Chris Clayton, clinical chief executive for Blackburn with Darwen CCG and a GP in Darwen, said: ‘The health economy is under considerable pressure because of urgent care admissions, and one of the standards we are working on is to alleviate that pressure. Generically, most GPs go on home visits after their surgery in the morning, but this causes a surge in admissions to hospital. Also if patients have to wait too long for a visit they sometimes call an ambulance. 

‘Another group of patients doesn’t ring their general practice, they just call 999. But we know from talking to our ambulance service that half of their calls could be managed in the community.’

Dr Clayton added: ‘Our out-of-hours service, East Lancashire Medical Services, recruited these doctors as an add-on to primary care services.’