Tony Stein, chief executive of Healthcare Management Solutions, has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt to outline how care homes could take some of the strain from busy A&E departments.
Mr Hunt recently called for MPs to come up with ideas for ensuring the NHS and social care are properly funded and fit for purpose.
Mr Stein writes that care homes could look after elderly people requiring care and attention but not medical intervention, freeing up emergency beds for more urgent cases and reducing A&E waiting times.
‘When an elderly person has a fall, a dizzy spell or an anxiety attack the immediate solution is to call for an ambulance. Often any alternatives, such as NHS helplines, are useless as the elderly person is too frail, confused or anxious to respond clearly to questions over the telephone. The only response therefore is to call paramedics and they, more often than not, then transfer the patient to A&E for monitoring.
‘It would be very simple for ambulance crews to work in conjunction with local care homes so that, in certain situations where there was no urgent or immediate need for medical intervention, they diverted away from A&E and delivered the elderly person to the home for care and monitoring. This would immediately free up A&E beds (the majority of A&E admissions are elderly persons).
“This is only one way in which care homes could alleviate pressures on the NHS. Health and social care are under extreme pressures but with more joined up thinking and partnership working care homes could undoubtedly play a significant role in supporting the NHS, to the benefit of everyone involved, particularly the patients.”