Falls ServicePeople living in Great Yarmouth and Waveney are receiving extra support to help them remain at home after suffering a fall thanks to a new initiative funded by the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). The early intervention vehicle (EIV) trial sees the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) dispatch an emergency medical technician to patients who have fallen. They are accompanied by an occupational therapist or physio from East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) or the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (JPUH).

The team is providing support to patients in their home with the aim of preventing a hospital admission or a trip to A&E, as well as making onward referrals for extra health and social care support where necessary. EIV staff also provide equipment and offer help and guidance to avoid falls in the future, in turn improving people’s quality of life and reducing pressure on NHS resources. The trial has been funded with £130,000 from the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). It comes following the success of similar schemes taking place elsewhere in Norfolk, and has been developed by EEAST, ECCH, NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), JPUH, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Waveney District Council, Suffolk County Council and Norfolk County Council. 

Cath Byford, Director of Commissioning with NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are really pleased that we have been able to work with our partners to trial this new service. Not only will the EIV ensure that people who have suffered a fall receive the best possible care, but will also mean they get the right help and support to stay in their own home wherever possible.  

“The team will also be able to offer vital help and guidance, onward referral and specialist equipment to help prevent repeat falls in the future, which is great news for patients and their families as it will improve their outcomes and quality of life. At the same time, it will also help reduce pressure on the NHS by minimising unnecessary hospital admissions and A&E attendances, and making best use of the ambulance service’s resources.

“I am confident that this new initiative will help prevent falls over what we know will be a busy few months over winter.”

Terry Hicks, EEAST Sector Head for Norfolk and Waveney, said: “We are delighted to be expanding this service to help patients in Great Yarmouth and Waveney. One in five of all 999 calls to the ambulance service are to patients who have suffered a fall and an emergency ambulance is not always required as a response. This project puts an alternative pathway in place so that they can stay at home by putting measures in place such as hand rails, removing trip hazards and reviewing a patient’s medication.

“It will help to reduce unnecessary A&E admissions, helps to keep a patient at home where they feel comfortable, and reduces the likelihood of falling again in the future.”

ECCH’s Director of Operations Adele Madin said: “We are delighted to have been able to build on the success of existing schemes, adding physiotherapy support as well as our occupational therapists to the team. This is a great example of how working in an integrated way with our NHS and social care colleagues means we are can be more efficient and effective, offering our patients the best possible care when they most need it.”

The service operates between 7am and 7pm at the weekends and on Fridays and Mondays from 7am to 7pm during periods of the highest demand.