The Vice-Chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel outlined the Panel's findings, conclusions and recommendations following a scrutiny investigation into the Experience of Vulnerable Older People in Healthcare Settings.
The Board considered the following recommendations of the Panel based on the submitted evidence:-
(i) That a detailed strategy should be developed by the local health and social care economy which outlines how it will tackle the challenge of improving the quality of health outcomes of the ever increasing numbers of vulnerable older people, as well as dealing with tighter financial parameters. It should articulate how closer partnerships are being employed in practice to improve service reconfiguration or responsiveness. This should be used as the key document in driving efforts to meet what is a significant challenge. It should also include some measures/metrics to judge how successful the local health and social care economy has been in meeting this challenge. The Panel would be happy to be involved in this document's preparation and review.
(ii) That a detailed document be prepared by the local health and social care economy outlining how virtual wards, and more effective community services, will reduce the number of vulnerable older people entering the acute environment, or at least reduce their length of stay. Included in that document should be reference to how virtual wards and community services will be developed, including reference to amount of investment and amount of staff. It should also set out when people can expect such developments to be coming on stream. The Panel is encouraged by the idea's potential, although at this stage it is not clear what it is or how its success will be judged.
(iii) The Panel would like to see work progressed to increase the capacity of the psychiatry liaison service, currently based at James Cook University Hospital. At the very least, the current service should be explicitly secured. The Panel considers that to reduce the services' coverage would be false economy, given the demographic pressures facing the Town.
Members sought clarification on a number of areas including the establishment of Virtual Wards involving the managing of appropriate patients in the community usually those with long term complex medical needs. It was acknowledged that given medical advances there was an increasing number of conditions for which patients did not necessarily have to be treated in an acute setting and with appropriate medical support would benefit from being in familiar surroundings in the home/community. In discussing the current funding arrangements it was confirmed that the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was also responsible for the provision of community services.
ORDERED that the findings and recommendations of the Health Scrutiny Panel be endorsed and referred to the Executive.