National healthcare leader visits NHS in Northumberland
A senior leader from the Department of Health has visited the north east to see first-hand one of the very best examples of integrated care in the country – right here in Northumberland.
Una O’Brien CB, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health has visited Wansbeck General Hospital to meet health and social care staff employed by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – one of the only NHS Foundation Trusts to provide adult social care, as well as hospital and community care.
For over ten years, Northumbria Healthcare has been working in close partnership with Northumberland County Council to develop fully joined up ways of working to ensure seamless health and social care for people in the county.
In April 2011, along with the transfer of over 1000 community services staff from the former NHS primary care trust, over 500 council-funded social care staff also transferred to Northumbria Healthcare – establishing one of the most unique arrangements for joined up, integrated health and social care in England.
Teams of hospital doctors, community nurses and social care workers in Northumberland now work in partnership to deliver a truly seamless service for patients, with Northumbria Healthcare providing all hospital, community and adult social care – something which usually falls under the responsibility of local authorities.
Daljit Lally, director of community services at Northumbria Healthcare and director of adult services and housing at Northumberland County Council explains: “We have a very strong relationship between the NHS and the local authority in Northumberland which is built on solid foundations of trust and an ethos which firmly puts our patients’ wellbeing at the centre of all care decisions.
“We are delighted that Ms O’Brien requested a visit to Northumberland to see how our integrated services work. Our frontline health and social care staff do a truly remarkable job working as part of fully integrated multi-disciplinary teams to ensure patients have the exact support and help they need – not only when they are in hospital, but when they are at home.
“The kind of support we offer could be anything from nursing care at home, help with washing, dressing or meal preparation, or organising adaptations to the home to help people live safely and independently following an injury or illness.”
As well as preparing necessary arrangements to support patients at home when they are discharged from hospital, Northumbria Healthcare staff also work proactively with GP practices to visit vulnerable elderly people at home to check on things like their medication to prevent any unnecessary hospital admissions.
During her visit, Una O’Brien met frontline health and social care teams at Wansbeck General Hospital who work together to look after frail elderly patients from the moment they are admitted to hospital, to making sure they have the right care and support to return home and live independently.
Commenting on her visit Ms O’Brien said: “It was great to see the NHS and local authority working in partnership in the interests of patients. It has been a pleasure to meet all of the various health and social care staff at Wansbeck General Hospital who are working in this way.”
The integrated health and social care delivered by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in Northumberland has recently been shortlisted for a prestigious national Health Service Journal (HSJ) award due to be announced later this year.