You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

Fire crews drafted in to help NHS cope with 'extreme pressure' ahead

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 6 days ago Laura Donnelly
a person standing in a room: The trust has suffered major problems in recent winters © PA The trust has suffered major problems in recent winters

Fire crews will be drafted in to take patients home from an NHS trust which has been beset by winter crises.

Worcestershire Acute Hospital Trust has agreed the plans with fire services in a bid to prevent overcrowding and bedblocking.

Under the arrangement, the fire service will be used to bring vulnerable patients home, settle them and check surroundings are safe, officials said.

Download the all-new Microsoft News app to receive up-to-the minute news from the world’s best sources – available now on iOS and Android

Last winter local ambulance services warned that the number of ambulances left queuing outside its hospitals was a “catastrophe”.

The previous winter saw concern about a number of deaths, including that of a woman who died after 35 hours on a hospital trolley at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Under the plan, the fire service would “support safe early discharge of patients who may need additional help to settle them back home” but did not require any in-home care.

Video: Cash From Budget Won't Avoid NHS Winter Crisis (LBC)

Replay Video

The fire service has agreed to provide the service for six months free, while it establishes how much help the trust needs.

The service will be offered to patients being discharged from Alexandra Hospital in Redditch - one of three hospitals run by the trust - from early next month.

A spokeswoman told Health Service Journal: “The service will be aimed at the most vulnerable to ensure they are safe in their own homes. Patients who can walk and possibly some wheelchair users will all benefit from transport home by uniformed fire service staff who are fully trained in identifying risks in the home and any required additional agency support.”

Gallery: The fascinating history of the NHS in photos (Photos)

Staff would use “regular” vehicles in the service’s fleet, not fire engines, and checks would be carried out by those who are trained to carry out wellness and safety home checks.

She said the fire service came up with the idea, recognising that "the NHS is under extreme pressure through the winter months".

A trust spokesman said: “This offer of additional support from our local fire service could help to improve our discharge processes and help our efforts to ensure patients who are medically fit for discharge get home safely, freeing up beds, improving patient flow, reducing waits in our emergency department and improving ambulance handover times."

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Telegraph

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon