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Home visit nurses freeing up general practice appointments

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A five-month pilot scheme is providing a swifter response and faster treatment to scores of patients who need a home visit, according to commissioners in part of Hampshire.

The new acute home visiting service is also helping to free up vital GP appointment times for other patients at the participating practices, said Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group.

“The GP or nurse can spend longer with a patient for the home visit”

Kerie Hargrave

Launched in early May, the service involves a GP or nurse visiting the homes of patients who are considered to be too ill or infirm to travel to their general practice.

Patients who call their practice requesting a home visit are triaged by a “care navigator”, before a GP will become involved to determine if the case is appropriate for the new service.

The scheme is being reviewed on a weekly basis to enable any appropriate improvement to be made.

In its first month of operation, 202 patients were seen – of whom 15 later had to be referred to hospital, said the CCG.

Seven of Gosport’s 11 practices are participating in the scheme – the four centres run by the Willow Group, Bury Road Surgery, Lee-on-the-Solent Health Centre and Manor Way Surgery.

The service comprises one GP, specially recruited for the role, and four nurses – two of whom have been seconded from community care. The other two nurses have emergency care expertise.

The team operates from 9am-2pm every weekday, and is already reliving pressure on the participating practices, according to the CCG.

It said it usually meant patients who previously might have received a home visit anyway were being seen and treated earlier in the day than they would under the previous arrangements.

Kerie Hargrave is the clinical nurse manager for the service as well as the existing same day access service that operates out of Gosport War Memorial Hospital, which is run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

Gosport War Memorial

Gosport War Memorial Hospital

She 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 [in Portsmouth], 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,” she said.

“All this means we are providing better local care – and saving money for the hard-pressed local health system,” added Ms Hargrave.

Dr David Chilvers, a local GP and chair of the CCG, said: “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.”

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