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Scheme to reduce bed blocking


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PETER LAKE: "This new service is an important step towards offering older people the most appropriate care quickly and efficiently." Picture: SALLY YONISH
PETER LAKE: "This new service is an important step towards offering older people the most appropriate care quickly and efficiently." Picture: SALLY YONISH

A PILOT scheme to cut hospital bed blocking by elderly people will be launched on Monday.

Emergency 999 calls which are not life-threatening will be diverted to a 24-hour help desk manned by paramedics who can put callers in touch with a range of care services for people in their own homes.

The KCC social services scheme is part of the Government initiative to reduce the number of emergency hospital bed days used by patients over 75 by 20 per cent over the next three years.

Elderly callers can be cared for at home by paramedics or they can use

rapid response teams of domiciliary carers and therapists or night nurse and social care sitting services.

Patients can also be admitted to community hospitals and care homes.

KCC's cabinet member for social care and community health Cllr Peter Lake (Con) said: "Hospitals are no longer the only option. This new service is an important step towards offering older people the most appropriate care quickly and efficiently, while also reducing the strain on hospitals."

Hayden Newton, chief executive of the Kent Ambulance NHS Trust, said the scheme should benefit many callers needing help, in particular those aged 75 or over.

He said: "Often it is better to treat elderly vulnerable people in their own home from a range of professional community-based services, as opposed to an A&E unit at hospital."

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