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November 23, 2011

A project by a local healthcare partnership has won a national award for its patient care at the Health Service Journal Awards 2011.

South Cheshire Health and Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning groups, in association with Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MCHFT), won in the ‘Patient Centred Care’ category against eight other finalists.

In December 2010, three Cheshire care homes were identified as having ‘above average’ numbers of ambulance call-outs and emergency admissions to hospital. The objective of the Commissioning group’s “GP Care Homes” project was to try and reduce such admissions from these homes by March 2011.

Simon Whitehouse, Chief Officer of the two Commissioning Groups, explains: “A working group was established, with representatives from the care homes, GP practices, MCHFT, commissioners and the medicine management team. One GP practice mentored each care home and worked with patients, families and staff to put clear care plans in place, while other GPs worked with pharmacy technicians to review residents’ medication.

“The result of the project was that attendances at Accident and Emergency from the three care homes involved were 46% lower in the first quarter of 2011 than in the same period in 2010.”

The time taken to hand out medicines was reduced during the project, which freed up time for staff to do other duties. The managers of the care homes also reported better relationships with GP practices as a result of the initiative. While the working group were happy with the project’s outcomes, relatives of the patients involved were also pleased with the changes made, stating that they valued the opportunity to discuss care plans with doctors.

Simon added: “It is a great honour to win this award, and I would like to thank the hard work and dedication of all the staff involved in making the project such a success.”

The initiative was funded by MCHFT, and Tracy Bullock, Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “The project cost in the region of £15,000. However, with 52 fewer A&E attendances and 77 fewer non-elective admissions, the result was an estimated £50,000 saving to the NHS overall.

“The project is now being rolled out across all nursing homes in Vale Royal and South Cheshire, and MCHFT is looking forward to being part of the continued success that this collaborative working has provided so far.”

In winning the award, the judging panel commended the project’s “innovative solutions to well defined problems”, which “produced excellent quantifiable results”.

This is the third national award win in recent months for initiatives which local health organisations have been a part of. In August, Central and East Cheshire Community Health were highly commended in a Health Service Journal Efficiency Award for development within its Integrated Respiratory Team, and MCHFT also won a Nursing Times Award in early November for its ‘Look at My Ability, Not My Disability’ project aimed at improving care for people with learning disabilities.