New East Lothian team working to stop hospital admissions

Monday November 14th 2022


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Patients from East Lothian are being assessed by their own local team of health experts when they arrive at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in a bid to reduce pressure on hospital services.

In an innovative move, East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership has posted a team of Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) in the hospital ahead of the expected winter pressure on its beds.

The In-Reach Team sees people from East Lothian as soon as they arrive to make sure they can get the home as soon as they are medically fit and avoid delayed discharges.

In its first week in place the team was able to prevent an East Lothian resident from being admitted through the hospital’s Accident and Emergency department by stepping in to provide additional care at home.

The resident was seen by an occupational therapist and discharged directly home with family members agreeing to assist whilst an increase in package of care was put in place, with a follow up visit from the partnership’s care, assessment and review team.

The team also saw 26 East Lothian patients during its first week, with eleven of them referred to partnership support services to speed up their journey home.

Health chiefs said the work of the team ensures patients are able to return home as soon as they are medically well, as well as supporting patients during the preparations for returning home and ensuring they have access to ongoing community-based care and treatment.

They added the project will free up more hospital beds for those who urgently need hospital care, just as the NHS moves into one of its toughest periods of the year.

Statistics show that East Lothian has among the smallest numbers in Scotland of patients whose discharge has been delayed.

The new project is part of a Lothian wide effort to improve the discharge process and make sure more patients can return home to their communities as soon as possible.

Lesley Berry, chief AHP and general manager for East Lothian’s rehabilitation service, said: “This initiative is focused on using local knowledge to support local people.

“By supporting the existing teams in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh with specialist East Lothian experience, we can significantly support patients to get the right level and service of care to meet their individual requirements closer to home.”

The East Lothian In-Reach Team is made up of a clinical lead occupational therapist, a clinical lead physiotherapist, a team lead occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a band 4 assistant practitioner with knowledge of home technology systems, and strong links with the adult social work services team.

As soon as an East Lothian patient arrives in hospital, they are assessed by the team to identify the most appropriate treatment and care support needs.

The In Reach Team then works with the wider health and social care partnership team to focus on getting the person to the right place.

Jill Gillies, director of unscheduled care, NHS Lothian, said the hospital was delighted to have the East Lothian team working with it.

She said: “Our services and teams are under significant and ongoing pressures because of an overall increase in use of our health services.

“We need to make sure that we have the hospital beds and staff available to provide treatment to those who urgently need it.

“This innovative project aims to help to streamline the admission and discharge process for patients in East Lothian and in some cases even prevent hospital admissions.”

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