Launch of new health service will help 'delays' to patients leaving hospital in Herts

The new FIRST service is aimed to help the flow of getting people out of beds at Watford Hospital
The new FIRST service is aimed to help the flow of getting people out of beds at Watford Hospital

A new health and care service has been introduced to help avoid delays to patients who are waiting to leave hospital in West Hertfordshire.

The new service, called FIRST (Facilitating Integrated Re-enablement to Support Transition) is a scheme which will provide support for up to 50 people in their own homes, after they have been in hospital.

Initially, the service will provide patients with immediate social care and personal home care support for up to six weeks. The scheme has been rolled out in other areas of the country, and is being implemented by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT).

HCT is working with West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) to increase its capacity to support people in their own homes in response to the need to reduce community hospital bed numbers.

The Trust says that the service will support the healthcare system in Hertfordshire by "facilitating the timely transfer of patients out of the hospital, to their usual place of residence", where it knows that people are medically fit for discharge, and to relieve the significant pressure currently on the hospitals.

HCT chief executive David Law said: “We have worked closely with WHHT and the County Council to respond to the fact that there are many people in hospital beds in Watford who would be better looked after at home. We all prefer to be at home when we can and we will be supporting people who are no longer acutely ill.

“Staff in HCT have worked quickly, along with colleagues from WHHT and social care to launch this service and I know that people who receive the service will appreciate being able to get back home.”

Katie Fisher, WHHT chief executive, added: “We really welcome the increased focus on reducing the delays our patients face in getting out of hospital. Keeping the flow of patients moving through and out of hospital helps those who are waiting to get in.

“In most cases, a prolonged wait in our emergency department is due to our inpatient beds being occupied by patients who no longer need them. So, by helping those patients out of hospital, we are making it easier for those who need hospital care to come in.

“It’s a win win and shows the benefits of partnership working which is more important now than ever.”