Ambulance on the way to an incident Image: iStock

A new pathway to speed up and improve the care that frail and elderly residents receive has been put into place by the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) and Bedfordshire Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Introduced ahead of what is expected to be a busy winter, the ‘Silver Frailty Line’, connects ambulance crews to frailty nurse practitioners and consultants within the hospital.

This is to enable residents to be treated in their own home, or taken straight to a specialist ward, often bypassing the Emergency Department.

The new pathway is unique to Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. It was implemented after health leaders came together to tackle system pressures as demand for health services increased.

Felicity Cox, executive lead for the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care System, said:

“The Silver Frailty Line is a great example of what we can achieve when we work together to improve outcomes for residents.

“We know many older people prefer to be treated at home, rather than go into hospital and so this pathway gives ambulance crews the option to give residents specialist care, treat them at home or bypass the Emergency Department and speeds up call times.”

Since the introduction of the pathway, at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital site, 53% of patients were admitted into a specialist ward without having to wait in the Emergency Department first.

The frailty team are keen to explore alternative pathways including community rapid response and Frailty Same Day Emergency Care if further diagnostics are needed or manage people through the Virtual Clinic.

Tammy Angel, clinical lead for frailty for Bedfordshire Hospitals Foundation Trust, said:

“It’s great to speak with our colleagues in EEAST and support our patients to stay safely at home and when it is the right thing to do to bring that person to hospital, then we know about them and are ready to receive them in Emergency Department.

“It’s also really important that the ambulance teams can get ‘back on the road’ and review the next person as quickly as possible and we provide the ‘safety net’.”

Dr Tom Davis, deputy ceo and medical director for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), said: “

“This collaboration allows us to ensure patients accessing Urgent and Emergency Care (UEC) Services are not conveyed to the Emergency Department when a better course of action can be agreed.

“This ultimately improves patient flow through our acute hospital departments and eases pressure on our local UEC system, particularly at a time when the pressures of the pandemic are still being felt by all services.

“This system integration is exactly how organisations across our ICS should be integrating to deliver more seamless services to patients.”