A five-month pilot scheme is providing a swifter response and faster treatment to scores of patients who need a home visit in Gosport.
The new Acute Home Visiting Service is also helping to free up vital GP appointment times for other patients at the seven participating GP practices.
Launched in early May, the AHVS involves a GP or nurse visiting the homes of those people who are too poorly or infirm to travel to their GP practice.
In its first month of operation, 202 patients were seen – of whom 15 later had to be referred to hospital.
Seven of Gosport’s 11 practices are participating in the scheme – the four Willow Group partners (Waterside, Stoke Road, Brune and Forton medical centres) and Bury Road Surgery, Lee-on-the-Solent Health Centre and Manor Way Surgery (Lee-on-the-Solent).
The AHVS comprises one GP, especially recruited for the role, and four nurses – two of whom have been seconded from community care. The other two with emergency care expertise.
The team operates from 9am-2pm every weekday, and is already reliving pressure on the participating GP practices because it is allowing doctors who might otherwise have to travel to see patients to stay in their surgeries and see more patients.
It usually means patients who previously might have received a home visit anyway are being seen – and receiving the most appropriate treatment - earlier in the day than they would under the previous arrangements.
Dr David Chilvers, a Waterside GP who chairs NHS Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There has been no let-up in the pressure on primary care services in Gosport.
“The Same Day Access scheme operating out of Gosport War Memorial Hospital continues to prove very successful in looking after people needing same day advice or treatment, but patients have probably noticed that the days have gone when they can expect to see a GP in a day or two for a routine appointment.
“One great benefit of the Acute Home Visiting Service, apart from the improved service to our patients, is that it is relieving pressure on GP practices.
“To have cut down on 202 appointments in just a month may not sound much, but it has potentially meant up to 157 less car journeys for GPs to have to go out and see a patient. That saving in time has been considerable.”
Kerie Hargrave, the clinical nurse manager for the AVS and Gosport’s Same Day Access Service, said: “The GP or nurse can spend longer with a patient for the home visit – and because patients are being seen earlier, we can get them through the system much faster.
“If they get referred on to Queen Alexandra Hospital, they are now being seen there much earlier in the day than before, which can be the difference between the patient having to stay in hospital overnight or not. All this means we are providing better local care – and saving money for the hard-pressed local health system.”
A patient who calls his/her practice requesting a home visit is triaged by a care navigator at the practice, before a GP will become involved to determine if the case is an appropriate one for the new service.
The AVS is being reviewed on a weekly basis to enable any appropriate improvement to be made.