Northamptonshire health and social care team up to help patients get home quickly

A new service has been developed to help speed up discharge for patients who are medically fit to leave hospital but still need some support in the community.


The Single Point of Access (SPA) Service is a result of partnership working between NHS Corby and Nene Clinical Commissioning Groups, Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Northamptonshire County Council and Olympus Care Services.


It goes live today (Monday, August 22) following months of preparatory work and a previous pilot project.


Previously hospital patients who were medically fit for discharge – but needed support packages of some kind from health/community services - would be assessed by a number of agencies using a special discharge needs assessment form.


The patients' forms were then discussed in a daily meeting between the senior decision makers from the partner agencies – but delays could sometimes occur if the form didn't have sufficient information on it to make a decision for the patient on that day.


The SPA should help speed up the process because instead of the patient's needs being discussed at a meeting held only once per day it will instead be acted on by a SPA Call Centre staffed by experienced health and social care staff who are available Monday to Friday (9am-5pm) and who will sort out any queries with the different agencies involved right away.


Referrals to the SPA Service will also happen earlier in the patient's journey so that any issues that are identified can be addressed early on and before they result in delays.


Dr Emma Clancy, Clinical Executive Director for Acute Trust South at NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group and Clinical Lead of the SPA, said:


“This is a very exciting piece of work. It has involved a collaborative, integrated approach across multiple providers to improve the service we give to our patients. Our vision is to develop seamless pathways across all parts of the health and social care system which will enable people access to the services they need in a timely and joined up way. By doing this we will be better able to bring them home from hospital as quickly as possible and support them there safely.”


Dr Miten Ruparelia Corby Clinical Commissioning Group's Clinical Leader added: “The SPA is a great starting point that will underpin ongoing work to strengthen services which wrap around patients in the community and facilitate easy referral into those services.”


Kettering General Hospital's Chief Operating Officer, Rebecca Brown, said: “The aim of the SPA is to ensure that all of the agencies involved in discharge work very closely together to address patients' needs.


“There is nothing more frustrating for a patient, and for their family, than to be told that an individual is medically fit to leave hospital – but will have to wait for a variety of necessary assessments and care packages to be co-ordinated and put in place.


“We hope the new SPA reduces the delays to patient discharge by giving us a clear picture – earlier in the patient's journey – of exactly what needs to be done to support the discharge and for the teams involved to put in place the appropriate measures as soon as possible.”


Sandra Mellors, Chief Operating Officer at NHFT, said:  “We are very pleased to be an integral part of this important collaboration. By working together in the SPA, health, social care and voluntary sectors can make the most appropriate decisions to help our patients at NHG and KGH be discharged safely and quickly. Ultimately our priority is to use our joint resources more effectively to improve the patient and carer experience. Simple things like joint assessments of need or making sure they have planned access to appropriate health and/or social care services after discharge can make all the difference, helping make recovery more comfortable.” 


One of the aims of the health and social care organisations working together in Northamptonshire is to help people to live at home for as long as possible maximising their independence.


We know that long stays in hospital can severely impact on this independence so we intend the SPA service to keep delays to discharge to a minimum which should help to address this issue.


It is also hoped that the SPA will help the organisations involved to identify areas where current processes can be further improved as the work progresses.


The SPA formally opens on Monday 22nd August and consists of a team of 25 people of experienced staff from the acute hospitals, Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, Northamptonshire County Council and some from voluntary organisations.


The service is based at John Dryden House in Northamptonshire County Council's Head Office on the outskirts of Northampton.