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Patients avoiding hospital trips thanks to innovative east London service

PUBLISHED: 15:08 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:20 13 February 2018

Physician response unit medics James Lambert, Tony Joy and Nabeel Jemah Picture: Alex Sutherland

Physician response unit medics James Lambert, Tony Joy and Nabeel Jemah Picture: Alex Sutherland

Alex Sutherland

Two-thirds of patients to use an innovative “A&E at home” service have avoided a hospital trip, figures from the first few months of operation reveal.

The physician response unit (PRU) is a collaboration between Barts Health NHS Trust, the London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance that takes the emergency department on the road.

In the first 111 days since its extended launch in September, it has treated 449 patients in the community. Of those, 312 would otherwise have been taken to an accident and emergency department.

Each unit consist of a senior emergency doctor and an ambulance crew member, with the vehicles carrying advanced medication, equipment and treatment usually only found in hospitals.

Of the patients to be treated by the PRU, 97.35 per cent who filled out a feedback form said they would recommend it.

These include Joshua Adeleke, 70, who was seen by the PRU medics after phoning 999. He was found to have sepsis and suffering from a severe infection, and the team used the advanced equipment to treat him there and then.

He called the service “fantastic” and added: “I really appreciated that I didn’t have to go to hospital.”

Operating in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney, Islington, Waltham Forest and the City of London, it is estimated the scheme has saved health services more than £410,000 by treating patients at home rather than in hospital.

Clinical lead for the PRU, Dr Tony Joy, said: “The data has confirmed what we hoped would happen. The first 111 days have brought tangible benefits to patients, who have been overwhelmingly positive in their feedback.”

London Ambulance Service medical director Dr Fenella Wrigley added: “This service ensures unwell patients get the very best care from an emergency ambulance crew and doctor.

“By taking the clinical expertise of the emergency department into a person’s home, we can save a patient an unnecessary hospital visit where their condition can be safely managed elsewhere.

“It also means more ambulances are available to respond to our sickest emergency patients.”

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