Whipps Cross Hospital admissions drop: Local residents praise new integrated care service

Better Care Together, run in conjunction with NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Waltham Forest Council, Barts Health NHS Trust (Barts Health), NHS North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) and local patient and voluntary organisations is a programme of work which provides additional health and social care to some of the most vulnerable people in Waltham Forest.

Case study 1: Anthony Kirk

Anthony Kirk (71) has had type 2 diabetes for the last 28 years and is insulin dependent. He also suffers from various other diabetes-related problems, which he needs to seek constant help for.

Anthony is supported by NELFT’s Rapid Response Team, in Waltham Forest. It’s a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals that provides treatment within two hours of a call-out for people on the Better Care Together programme. The service runs seven days a week and helps more than 200 people every month. It helps people stay out of hospital and, when they do need hospital care, gives them the support they need to get them home quickly.

Anthony says: “Normally, and in the past, I would have gone into hospital for treatment and that would have been the only treatment I would have been getting. Now, the rapid response nurse comes in daily to give me the treatment I need which means I can stay at my own home. It’s a great improvement.”

Case study 2: Elizabeth Wickings

Elizabeth Wickings had a problem with her legs, which were swollen. Elizabeth benefitted from the support of the Rapid Response Team.

“I got in touch with the doctor first and then the rapid response came to see me. They checked me all over – my blood pressure and everything like that and looked at my legs and decided that I had got an infection. He suggested that took some antibiotics for it and the swelling went right down. Having the rapid response is very good, very helpful and I was so pleased that I didn’t have to go to hospital.”

Historically this group that makes up 20% of Waltham Forest’s population, has accounted for 80% of the borough’s hospital costs. Amongst them are: elderly, people with long-term illnesses and people with long-term mental health conditions.  All of these people are at a high risk of needing hospital care.

Patient feedback and new data shows the integrated Better Care Together programme is dramatically improving their health and quality of life and significantly reducing the pressure on local hospital services.

Dr Anwar Khan, a local GP and Chair of Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), says:

“A recent Care Quality Commission report confirmed that Whipps Cross Hospital is facing some huge challenges. The whole community needs to pull together and do everything we can to support our local hospital, and this work is an important step. Admissions to Whipps Cross Hospital are down 12% year-on-year, mostly for people aged 85 and over and for children under the age of four. Better Care Together has been a big factor in this reduction.

“While this is a fantastic start, we know there is still a long way to go. Better Care Together is still in the early stages of its development and over the next few years we plan to introduce a whole range of new initiatives.

Cllr Ahsan Khan, Waltham Forest Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, says:

“People in Waltham Forest, like everywhere else in the UK, are facing some major challenges when it comes to their health and wellbeing. We have an ageing population and a growing number of people who are living longer and have one or more long-term conditions.

“Our population is rising twice as fast as the national average and we are already seeing huge increases in demand for health and social care services. With limited resources available, the only option is to change the way we work to be more efficient.”

Helen Byrne, Hospital Director and Lead on Integrated Care at Whipps Cross Hospital, run by Barts Health NHS Trust, explained:

"I am proud that the integrated care service works so well with our own admission avoidance team, together with our local community partners. We have been able to improve the outcomes for our patients and their experience by ensuring that they receive the care they need in the best place for them. It is important that all our patients feel well looked after at every stage of their care and I am pleased that people are telling us that we are getting it right."

Philomena Arthur, NELFT’s assistant director Chingford health service, Waltham Forest, said:

“Integrated care is helping to optimise the support we give to the most vulnerable patients so they remain in better health. The knock on effect is we are helping to reduce new hospital admissions and readmissions for people who are injured because of a fall, have long term conditions such as diabetes, heart or kidney diseases.”

Jaime Walsh, Manager of Healthwatch Waltham Forest, says:

“The statistics so far are extremely encouraging and it is clear that patients are already starting to benefit. The more opportunities partners can create for listening to patients and their carers, the more we can continue to improve and build upon this impressive start.

“We welcome local people’s views on integrated care and how the services are working for them, and we are committed to sharing these views with our partners. If you would like to share your experiences please do contact Healthwatch Waltham Forest on Info@healthwatchwalthamforest.co.uk or give us a call on 020 3078 9990.”

The concept of integrated care has been brought to life in three new videos developed by the NHS and the council. The first video features Waltham Forest residents talking about their experience of the services. The other two videos feature animated couple Govinda and Ayesha Patel, a typical east London couple who have been happily married for over 50 years, and highlights how integrated care works.

For more information about integrated care and to watch the videos, please visit the Waltham Forest CCG website www.walthamforestccg.nhs.uk