Clinical teams across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) are rolling out the health board’s most comprehensive and coordinated winter contingency plan.
Hundreds of staff in hospitals, GP practices and out-of-hours centres will be involved in delivering the plan over the next few months.
NHSGGC began planning for winter in the early part of this year and £1 million has been invested in preparations to ensure that local health services cope with expected increases in demand over the winter period.
Central to dealing with the added stresses on health services during this notoriously busy time is a drive to prevent people becoming ill in the first place, avoid hospital admissions wherever possible and deal effectively with those who do require hospital treatment.
Dr Linda de Caestecker, NHSGGC’s Director of Public Health, explained: “As ever our winter planning includes more hospital beds and staff but being prepared for winter is increasingly about preventing admissions. We are taking a system-wide approach which includes GPs and Pharmacies, to try to prevent people being admitted to hospital where possible.
“The key to this is ensuring the public are prepared for the winter season and know what to do if they feel unwell. Many common winter ailments, such as colds and flu, can be treated without going to GPs or local hospitals - pharmacists often provide the appropriate help. By using healthcare services appropriately at this time of year, pressure on the system is relieved, patients will receive speedy and suitable advice and we are able to direct help to where it is needed most.”
In order to achieve this NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has introduced a wide range of measures designed to help ensure that where possible, and where appropriate, hospital admissions and GP visits are avoided.
Some of these will include:
- A new Care Home Team of 14 whole time equivalent nurses to support GPs working in care homes. The team will have links with designated care homes and will support the GPs in homes by providing clinical care. They will also help prevent admission to hospital and support discharge from hospital to care homes. This team will also have a key role in advising and supporting nurses working in care homes and providing links to other specialist services.
- Highly trained Minor Illness Nurses will work in our busiest GP out-of-hours centres throughout the festive period to provide additional support and treatment to many of the patients who attend.
- New arrangements will be put in place so that pharmacists can link direct with GPs in our out-of-hours centres to discuss more serious cases and ensure that patients who need to see a doctor get access to treatment as soon as possible.
- A new GP to consultant hot line is being set up to enable GPs to talk directly to hospital consultants to discuss patient treatment options and arrange same or next day appointments.
Another key priority this winter has been to identify extra capacity within our hospitals to cope with the expected increases in demand.
A number of steps will be taken to create this additional capacity, including:
- Further rapid assessment units to ensure patients attending A&E are seen and admitted within four hours. These units will fast track patients from A&E to an acute receiving ward. Extra nurses will be appointed to staff these areas.
- Extra medical beds will be staffed, including a 24-bedded ward, a 17-bedded ward and the expansion of a five-day ward to a seven-day facility.
- Extra Clinical Support Workers will be appointed to work between A&E and acute receiving wards. These staff will support doctors by organising tests e.g. blood tests, ECG tests and obtaining results. This will not only ensure patients get speedy results, it will also free up medics to concentrate on other tasks.
- Trackers will be appointed to support inpatients whose sole reason for remaining in hospital is for diagnostic tests. These staff will organise supported discharge and rapid diagnostic outpatient appointments.
- The use of discharge lounges will be maximised, where patients ready to go home can wait for prescription medicines or transport and thus free up a bed for another patient.
- Additional staff will be rostered for Emergency Dental Treatment Centres in the Glasgow Dental Hospital and Greenock over the festive period to cope with anticipated extra demand.
For further information contact the Press Office on 0141 201 4429.