‘Revolutionary’ local health programme hits the two-year mark

Dr Andrew Weatherburn
Dr Andrew Weatherburn
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More than 2,000 people have been helped in the first two years of a local NHS project – which has been hailed as ‘revolutionary’.

The Extensive Care service programme, which cares for people over 60 with two or more chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, has also been praised for easing the pressure on Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

The man leading it, Dr Andrew Weatherburn, said: “We know that nobody likes to constantly be in and out of hospital or needing help from other servies. It isn’t good for patients but it also isn’t good for services, so we were always clear that one of our fundamental aims would be to reduce the demand on A&E, GPs, and others from this group of patients. All the evidence we have to date shows we are indeed doing that.”

Eligible patients are referred onto the Extensive Care service by their GP, accessing it at one of four main bases: Moor Park Health Centre in Bispham, South Shore Primary Care Centre, Lytham Primary Care Centre, and Wyre Civic Centre in Poulton.

Rather than flitting from appointment to appointment at various places, the service sees patients given care for all their conditions under one team under the same roof.

They are also assigned a support worker who can visit their homes and act as a point of contact.

When patients are judged to be fit to leave the service, they are then discharged back to their GP. Dr Weatherburn added: “The number of times these patients need to visit A&E, their GP, or be admitted to hospital have all fallen. We’ve also seen plenty of exceptional feedback from patients about their experience with us.”

Dr Tony Naughton, GP at The Thornton Practice and the clinical chief officer at Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The pressures the NHS is under are well-known, so making best use of the money, staff and services we have is crucial.

“Extensive Care is a perfect example of that; a range of professionals working together as one team to reduce the demand on other services and improve patient experiences. The evidence shows what an impact they are having, so it really is a positive all round.”

Healthcare bosses in other areas of the country are now said to be following suit, with chiefs in Tameside and Glossop launching their own version of the service following talks and visits locally.

Wendy Swift, chief executive at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We have achieved a remarkable amount in these first two years.

“First and foremost, our aim has always been to make sure the service provides people with the care they need to stay well for longer.

“But in pioneering this new way of working, we’ve also been able to share our experiences with other areas to benefit even more patients across the country too.”