Shropshire NHS winter coping strategies to be discussed

“Demand management” strategies are in place to help prevent Shropshire’s health services cope over the winter, a local NHS chief has said.

In a report, Clinical Commissioning Group Planning Director Sam Tilley, said “usual planning arrangements have not applied” for the 2020-21 cold season, but added that the system has learned some “beneficial” lessons from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Rapid response” nursing and therapy services have been expanded to avoid the need to go to hospital, she wrote, and the community respiratory service has been bolstered to allow patients to leave sooner and safely.

Her report will be discussed by the Telford and Wrekin Health and Wellbeing Board when it meets on Thursday, December 3.

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Health bodies usually produce winter resilience plans but, in a previous report for the board in September, Mrs Tilley – who represents both Shropshire CCG and Telford and Wrekin CCG – said this year’s would be “significantly different” because of “uncertainty regarding how Covid-19 will behave”.

In the new report, she said: “The challenges of restoration and recovery, of which winter planning forms a significant part, are significant this year.

“However, there also benefits to be realised as there is much Covid-19 specific learning which we have taken with us into the next phase.”

She said planning has centred on five “key themes” with “the overall focus very much on demand management”.

There are 30 winter capacity schemes in the CCG’s plan, from partners including NHS trusts and both local authorities. Mrs Tilley gave examples of schemes in place to help in the areas. “Attendance and admission avoidance” measures include “expansion of the nursing and therapy workforce in the current Telford and Wrekin Rapid Response service”, and the introduction of a similar service in the Shrewsbury and Atcham area.

“Discharge” measures include “expansion of the specialist community respiratory service to in-reach at RSH to support earlier discharge” and “a duty nurse to take calls from GPs and West Midlands Ambulance [Service] to provide specialist support and avoid conveyance to hospital”.

Mrs Tilley wrote: “The winter capacity schemes started to come on-stream from November. Close oversight of the implementation of these schemes and their impact is essential.”

Bed requirements will be reassessed and refreshed regularly, she added.

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