Home Visiting Service Update

COVID-19 restrictions have created a better service for Birmingham’s most vulnerable

AN INNOVATIVE city-wide GP home-visiting service launched in the last few weeks to support Birmingham’s 1.1 million residents in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The first two Home Visiting teams started on 8th April and our final two teams commenced on 24th April.
Our Health Partnership (OHP), a partnership of 37 local practices, has put the service together to continue to provide care to housebound and frail patients, and also be able to safely see patients infected with Coronavirus at home in their time of need.

Working with organisations who serve the community is the answer

Building on the trust and relationships patients have with their own GPs, OHP created a network of home-visiting cars with drivers and local clinicians that span the city.
Dr Vish Ratnasuriya, Chair of OHP, said: “By working together across health organisations and partnering our incredible NHS volunteers, St John Ambulance, Enterprise, Pure Staff and Orvecare (a British healthcare manufacturer who supply the NHS and St Johns) we’ve created this new visiting service in less than two weeks to ensure we serve our patients at this time of national need.
“Early feedback suggests the service may well be better for our housebound and frail patients, and it also provides care for a new group of patients, the governments ‘shielded’ group, who are extremely vulnerable to Coronavirus and have been told not to leave home for 12 weeks.”

Pictured – Left: Mark Boyle (centre) pictured with St John and NHS Volunteers. Right: Mark about to visit a patient at home in full protective equipment.

Building on how Coronavirus has changed General Practice

This is an example of how your GP is quickly adapting their way of working in the face of these challenging times.
Dr Alex Meyer, OHP’s project clinical lead, said: “GPs now speak to all patients on the telephone first, 90 per cent of clinical problems are now addressed without needing to see patient’s face to face, which has amazed GPs and patients alike”.
“If GPs need more information, we now send a text message to patients so they can begin a video consultation and, again, we often can get the extra information needed to answer patients’ queries. This leaves a small number of patients who need to be seen face-to-face.  This rigorous use of remote consultations prevents the spread of Coronavirus from patient to patient, and protects GP practices and staff so they can continue to provide care across the populations they serve.”
Dr Ratnasuriya, said: “Traditionally GPs do home visits after their morning surgery, which often occurs in the afternoon due to demand in surgeries. This can leave our most complex and frail patients waiting longer than is desirable to receive care. The new home visiting service allows our housebound or ‘shielded’ patients to be first assessed and treated in real-time by telephone or video, and the vast majority of problems are dealt with remotely by GPs who know the patient well. If patients do require a home visit a team can be dispatched immediately.”
Mark Boyle, now senior paramedic at Lordswood Medical Practice but previous Special Operation Response Team (SORT) team leader at North West Ambulance Service, (pictured above) said: “While we have not faced this kind of health threat before this service helps to keep our patients and ourselves safe. As well as coming from a frontline ambulance background, I’ve also worked with St John Ambulance for many years, so I’m not surprised they answered the call to help our community, and I’ve been blown away by the selflessness of the NHS volunteers who support us.”