Top politicians drop in to see our cutting-edge coordinated care work

Jeremy Hunt, Eric Pickles and Norman Lamb at Sherard Road Clinic in Eltham.
Jeremy Hunt, Eric Pickles and Norman Lamb at Sherard Road Clinic in Eltham.

The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, dropped into a clinic in Greenwich this week to see first-hand how our involvement in coordinated care is working in the Royal Borough.

Mr Hunt brought two senior colleagues along to the Sherard Road Medical Centre in Eltham: Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles and Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb.

The trio were keen to see the leading-edge integration work of Greenwich Coordinated Care (GCC) on the ground. Greenwich has established truly integrated community health and social care teams since 2011 and in 2013 was selected as an Integrated Care Pioneer site. 

In the Eltham practice, the ministers visited, they met with elected councillors and health and social care professionals from the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Oxleas, who together with the local voluntary sector make up GCC. They also met the Chair of Healthwatch Greenwich, Leceia Gordon-Mackenzie, Greenwich CCG clinical commissioner and local GP, Dr Krishna Subbarayan, who has been leading the work that was piloted in Eltham, and a carer, Linda Harris, whose mother Joan has benefited from the care being provided. 

The GCC work involves blending primary care, community care, social care and the voluntary sector to deliver services tailored to the needs and preference of the individual.

The pilot focuses on the most complex patients with more than three long term conditions who are at high risk of being admitted to hospital. Once people have been identified as needing the service, the Care Navigator will listen to the patient and their carer to understand individual needs.

A team then meets to solve as many of the complex problems as possible, finding innovative solutions. Each individual has a named professional who coordinates their care plan, so that patients don't have to repeat their story to numerous professionals.

By working in this integrated way, since 2011 Greenwich health and social care has:

  • achieved a reduction of about 100 admissions per year, even though there is an aging population, and has improved from the highest rate of emergency admission rates in the country in 2004 to the 9th best
  • reduced admissions to care homes by 35% - by providing care at, or closer to home and helping people maintain their independence
  • put joint emergency response teams in place - professionals from across all health and social care work together to respond to crises in two hours, preventing people ending up in hospital unnecessarily
  • made savings in health services, which have been reinvested in more community care
  • reduced social care spending by £900K

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The work in Greenwich is a leading example of joined up care and we heard first-hand how this is making a difference to patients. We want to make this vision a reality for patients across the country and help deliver a sustainable future for the NHS."

Jane Wells, our Director of Adult Community Health Services said: “We work as one team with our local council, Royal Borough of Greenwich and Greenwich CCG to deliver a seamless service for our patients. Patients within Greenwich Coordinated Care have one, named care coordinator as their point of contact for any issues from health to housing, transport or care needs, this reduces delays, duplication and the stress that being ill and in need of help can often cause."

Eric Pickles said: “It was great to see for myself the pioneering work that is going on in Greenwich. Better care is about the improvements we can make for some of the most vulnerable in society so that they can have dignity and independence in old age. The services in Eltham do exactly that.”

Norman Lamb said: “Too often care is uncoordinated, leaving many people needlessly going back to A&E again and again. But the approach in Eltham is helping to keep people healthy and out of hospital by bringing the right professionals together and really listening to the patient and their families.

"The Greenwich Pioneer is showing fantastic leadership and demonstrating how we can improve care and make the money go further."

Published on 30th October 2014