Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes awarded £416k charity funding to improve patient services Image supplied by BLMK CCG

Four community projects in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) have been awarded £416,000 to help deliver healthcare services to the local people most in need.

The projects are to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people in communities across BLMK, while improving response times to emergencies and lowering pressure on NHS services by reducing admissions to hospitals.

Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System (BLMK ICS) worked with local NHS hospitals and voluntary, faith, community and social enterprise organisations to secure the funding.

Financial support has been awarded to projects being run by the Bedfordshire Rural Community Charity, South Central Ambulance Charity, the YMCA Milton Keynes ‘Shine Project’ and the British Red Cross.

Paul Calaminus, chief executive of East London NHS Foundation Trust and senior responsible officer for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes ICS Inequalities Priority, said:

“We are delighted that these projects have been awarded funding from NHS Charities Together. Their work will hugely benefit the health and wellbeing of people throughout our community, especially those who are isolated or vulnerable.

“It’s a great example of how NHS organisations, local authorities, voluntary groups and charities can work in partnership to make a real difference to the lives of our patients.

“As the winter months approach NHS services are always under pressure, but the COVID-19 pandemic could mean that demand is greater than ever this year.

“By improving response times, reducing emergency admissions, and looking after people in their communities, these projects will play a key role in supporting local health and care services and reducing the pressure upon them.”

The British Red Cross ‘Home Safe’ Programme will oversee an improved discharge service for patients leaving hospital across Bedfordshire and Luton.

By conducting wellbeing check-ups during the discharge process, they will be able to identify any issues and help to prevent re-admission, relieving the pressure on hospital beds through winter when they are in high demand.

The Bedfordshire Rural Community Charity will be providing digital skills training and electronic devices to isolated people across Bedford and Central Bedfordshire. This improves their social wellbeing and helps to ensure that patients have equal access to digital health and social care services.

The YMCA Milton Keynes ‘Shine Project’ provides crucial mental health support to vulnerable young people. It also works with local hospitals to identify victims of assault and violent abuse attending A&E, to ensure that they get the vital support they need.

South Central Ambulance Charity will be delivering support to care homes which will be particularly important throughout the winter months.

Its work includes training volunteer community first responders to attend potentially life-threatening emergencies in the vital first minutes before the ambulance arrives to stabilise the patient and provide appropriate care.

Chair for the Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Charity, Simon Linnett, said:

“This funding will offer a huge benefit to communities across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes by delivering on NHS healthcare priorities and making sure that people have access to outstanding care in the places where it matters most.

“On behalf of the Trust and Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Charity, I would like to thank all those involved in the delivery of this funding project. Of course, the services delivered across BLMK are a fitting tribute to the achievement of our local hero in Bedfordshire, Captain Sir Tom Moore. The vital projects will be an extraordinary celebration of his memory.

“These projects will be critical as we look to recover from COVID-19 and implement sustainable, long-term support for those who need it. NHS Charities Together will have a lasting legacy owing to their support through a turbulent time for NHS colleagues and the community alike.”