Commenting on today’s BBC Analysis of A&E Waiting Times, Julia Scott, Chief Executive at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) Says:
“The number of long waits at hospital A&E departments is simply unsustainable. Hospitals and ambulance services are struggling to cope and subsequently waiting times are rising. In order to change this we must look at new ways of reducing the pressure on urgent and emergency care.
“Back in November 2016 the RCOT published a report which demonstrated how greater use of occupational therapists in A&E departments and in Primary Care could reduce admissions by up to 80%, reduce stays on acute wards by an average of 8.5 days and support rapid and safe discharge from hospital.
“It is depressing that despite the overwhelming evidence, leaders in too many parts of NHS England have failed to learn the lessons of last winter. We are urgently calling for the whole NHS to recognise that occupational therapy is the answer they are searching for this winter and beyond.”
In Lancashire, in the 12 months April 2016 – March 2017, 76% of people who received an innovative joint assessment between a paramedic and an occupational therapist were able to remain at home. This partnership is called the Falls Response Service (FRS) and has been set up by East Lancashire NHS Hospitals Trust and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS). The FRS is sent out to 999/111 calls from people who have fallen but do not have an apparent injury, as the multidisciplinary team is able to simultaneously check for health concerns that need immediate attention as well as assessing what caused the fall and establishing future preventative measures.
This service has ensured that nearly 80% of people they saw were able to remain at home instead of being taken to A&E. Putting this service in place saved the NHS nearly £200,000 and ensured beds were available for people with more serious medical needs who required them. That is just one car, in one ambulance service.
The effectiveness of this partnership is perhaps reflected in the difference between East Lancashire’s rate of ambulance delays of over 30 minutes when compared to its neighbour – Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This trust has the highest rate of ambulance delays over 30 mins in England at 54%, whereas East Lancashire, pioneers of the paramedic/ occupational therapist response service, has just 29% of ambulances delayed over 30 minutes.
Julia Scott continues:
“These figures add to the growing body of evidence that occupational therapists have a real impact easing pressure on NHS services and enable more patients to stay at home and avoid hospital admission.
“We call on Health and Social Care leaders to rapidly increase the number of occupational therapists working at the front line because we know this would have a huge impact in reducing the unbearable pressure currently being placed on our hospitals.”
For more information or to speak to the Chief Executive, please contact:
Helen Merrills – 07878 871480