Posted on Friday 23 August 2013
Samantha Dorney-Smith and Rachel Smith
A project that reduces A&E admissions for homeless people, and our orthopaedic department, have both been shortlisted for prestigious health industry awards.
Helping the homeless
A project initiated by A&E nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital, London’s busiest A&E for homeless people, has been shortlisted for this year’s Nursing Times Awards in the Emergency Care category. The project has halved the number of A&E attendances by this group of patients by ensuring they access the appropriate care in other areas of the hospital and in the community.
Homeless people experience a higher rate of serious health problems, and struggle to access healthcare. The aim of the project was to ensure the patients are seen by all the relevant specialist services.
A&E Homeless Nursing Lead Rachel Smith says: “We meet monthly with a team of specialist outreach services, homeless health services, and colleagues from King’s College and South London and Maudsley hospitals. We discuss the rough-sleeping and homeless hostel patients who regularly attend A&E and come up with a plan of action for each of them to help A&E staff care for these patients more effectively.
“The crucial thing is to link the patients in with mainstream services such as GPs and primary care nursing clinics.
“Our aim is to improve knowledge among A&E staff of how to treat homeless patients who have a higher rate of serious health problems and difficulty accessing healthcare. Because it reduces A&E attendances, it saves the NHS money too.”
The Trust’s orthopaedic department has been shortlisted in the Creating Sustainable NHS Providers category of the HSJ Awards for two pieces of work that have had a huge impact on patients.
Demand for a consultation with one of our orthopaedic consultants has almost doubled in the last two years due to patients requesting to be referred here. Despite this huge surge in demand, the department has reduced average waiting times from three months to three weeks. Saturday working, a change in leave policy, and two additional members of staff are to thank for this impressive increase in efficiency.
The department was also shortlisted for second innovative piece of work, where patients who have had a hip or knee replacement can leave hospital two to four days earlier because they can be supported in the comfort of their own home.
Director of Orthopaedics Brian Wells explains: “Our patients told us they wanted to leave hospital earlier and this has been made possible thanks to our fantastic outreach team – consisting of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses – who provide the same level of dedicated care in the patient’s own home as they would received in hospital