People living in North Staffordshire are benefitting from improved health care services following the launch of a new service that aims to provide care closer to home and prevent an unnecessary visit to Accident and Emergency (A&E).

The Community Rapid Intervention Service (CRIS) is an integrated service provided by both University Hospital of North Midlands (UHNM) and Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) for patients at risk of needing an admission to hospital.

The service is provided across North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and offers a helpline for GPs, care homes and West Midlands Ambulance Service to refer patients for care within their own home.

A team of specially trained Advanced Nurse Practitioners from MPFT sees patients in their own home within two hours of referral and are then supported by a UHNM consultant as part of a virtual ward.

The service is available to people over the age of 18 who are at risk of being admitted to hospital and it is anticipated that the majority of patients will be elderly.

During the second week of January the team received more than 100 calls and reviewed 75 patients in their own home and 65 of them were able to stay at home with a plan and support from MPFT to get better.

The helpline is staffed by a team of both clinical and non-clinical call handlers who can support referers through the process and provide expert advice in relation to both sub-acute management of care within the patient's home and support admission avoidance pathways.

Jennie Collier, Managing Director for MPFT's Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Care Group said: "We know it's best for people's health and wellbeing to be supported in their own home wherever possible and this is MPFT's specilism. This partnership is already making a difference and serves as an excellent example of NHS organisations working together in smart and innovative ways for the benefit of patients and their loved ones."

Kevin Parker-Evans, UHNM Associate Chief Nurse, said: "Our A&E is a very busy department and not really the right place for many of our patients to be, particularly those who are old and frail. CRIS provides a responsive, flexible, accessible service providing care in the home and a better patient experience while reducing the pressure on A&E and demand on our hospital beds."