The West Midlands Ambulance Services has transferred nearly 1000 ambulance calls to Birmingham’s Urgent Community Response (UCR) team since the new community service launched last October (2021).
The UCR team is providing urgent, crisis response care within two-hours and/or reablement care responses within two-days. It is playing a critical role in helping people across Birmingham to avoid unnecessary hospital admission and attendance at A&E, as well as supporting them to remain independent in their own home for as long as possible.
Referrals for UCR are typically from primary care, NHS 111, A&E/same day emergency care, frailty assessment units, ambulance services, self-referral, carer referral and community-based health and social care, including care homes.
The UCR team currently takes 100 calls a week of which 33% are falls without apparent injury. A further 38% of calls relate to water infections from other clinical pathways.
Rupinder Chal, Head of Community Nursing at Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust which is responsible for delivering urgent community services across Birmingham said: “The UCR launched six months earlier than planned due to the pressure on the city’s health and care system. We began by running a pilot test between UCR and WMAS last autumn to see how many non-life threatening WMAS calls we could respond to, leaving the crews to focus on patients facing more serious illness or injury.
“We identified that we could be most helpful by responding to calls that involved possible acute infections and falls with no signs of apparent injury. In recent months we have also expanded our support by going out to make patients, who have dialled 999, more comfortable until the WMAS crews arrive.”
From next month (November) the next phase of UCR’s expansion will be for a member of the team to join the OPAL+ and WMAS collaboration. This enables crews who are unsure whether a patient should be taken to hospital can phone a geriatrician led team at the Queen Elizabeth Birmingham Hospital and hold a virtual multi-disciplinary assessment in the patient’s home. The partnership can arrange for wrap around care support to help keep that patient at home rather than be taken to hospital. This support will now include UCR as an additional option.
The UCR team is currently raising awareness with GP’s and care homes of what it can offer. It is also looking to expand its remit so that it can further support WMAS. Clinical leads at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust (BCHC) and WMAS are working on this now. Finally, as the service continues to be strengthened and shaped and in response to UCR team feedback, the team is recruiting to a different number of roles to help meet the service need.