PATIENTS normally treated in hospital can now choose to be looked after in their own home in a pioneering NHS project.
Ian Donald, 84, of St Marks Road, Saltney, feels he made a rapid recovery from pneumonia because he was able to remain in familiar surroundings.
The doctor and nurse-led Hospital at Home initiative, operating in Chester and Ellesmere Port, is the first of its kind in country with nothing but positive comments from patients so far.
“You are more relaxed. You are more at ease,” said widower Mr Donald, who suffers from a serious lung condition but is now less breathless.
“When you are in hospital, you are very well looked after, don’t misunderstand me, but there are so many patients that are ill and a doctor can only do so many.”
The grandfather and great grandfather, who has been on a portable oxygen machine, added: “They’re all lovely, the staff. They can’t do enough for you. But I mean this is more personal in your own home.”
The retired driving instructor felt safe due to the constant monitoring of his condition by visiting doctors and nurses, despite not having medical staff on hand around the clock. In the event of taking a turn for the worse, Mr Donald was could ring a 24 hotline for instant assistance.
Hospital at Home was commissioned by NHS Western Cheshire as an alternative to hospital care, when safe to do so, taking into account social circumstances and general health – but only if the patient believes it is right for them.
A team of GPs and nurses treat a range of ‘straight-forward’ conditions including pneumonia, chronic lung disease (COPD) and serious urinary tract and skin infections but not, for example, a heart attack.
The initiative by Partners4Health is the brain-child of medical director Dr John Hodgson and clinical services head Linda Gorst, who both still see patients, despite their managerial role.
Set against a background of soaring hospital admissions and financial pressures, the pair are adamant the scheme is not about cutting services but delivers a patient-centred service with value for money being a desirable spin-off.
Linda says the model is still being developed but hopes the programme, which currently treats just 12 patients at any one time, can eventually be rolled out to the rural area.
She said: “We are both madly passionate about this. It’s been our baby to get it off the ground. What really brought it home was we had a lady with breast cancer and she had been in and out.
“She was really unwell and needed intravenous antibiotics. She said it was so great last night, I was able to have a little cuddle with my husband in my own bed. You don’t think about things like that. If you’ve got cancer you want a cuddle, don’t you.”
John says a hospital can be a challenging environment for many patients, particularly the frail and elderly, which can lead to an escalation in their medical problems.
“Because you’re in your own home, you don’t have the opportunity to develop the complications,” he explained.