26 June 2020

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as there was a need to provide additional hospital beds, there was an equal need to ensure that services were in place to provide immediate support to patients when discharged from hospital. So community health services in Newham were galvanised to provide a wrap-around service to free up beds and ensure patients had the right support for their recovery.

The Integrated Hub came into being on 7 April with the aim of facilitating rapid discharge for adults aged 18 and over, within 3 hours, for patients declared medically fit to return to their place of residence or a new care placement.  This involved establishing immediate health and social care support.   

Operational Manager Daniel Franey still can't quite believe they managed to pull it off.  He said, "This is a great example of joined-up partnership working and its success is all the more impressive given the remarkably short time frame in which the service became operational.  But it has undoubtedly improved the patient journey. It has also contributed to the fostering of good working relationships between the various different services that didn't quite exist previously."

Forging Relationships
It was the beginning of a new partnership initiative between the ELFT Rapid Response Team, Bart’s Health, The London Borough of Newham, Enabled Living and Age UK. While working relationships did exist previously between the various organisations, this new approach has strengthened these considerably and the Hub is now an example of effective partnership working across organisational boundaries.

All patients discharged from Newham University Hospital Trust (NUHT) or Newham residents discharged from other acute hospitals, including but not limited to the Royal London Hospital and Whipps Cross Hospital, are processed via the Hub. 

Getting People Home Safely
The Hub also acts as the middle ground for non-Newham residents discharged from NUHT ensuring that they are picked up by their local health and social care providers; to date the Hub has supported discharges to Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham and Waltham Forest. The Hub works proactively with all the respective services coming together three times a day to facilitate successful discharge using a multidisciplinary approach.

Since becoming operational on 7 April, up to and including the 16 June, the Hub has managed the discharge of 715 patients from various acute hospital sites. These really are exceptional numbers in terms of patients discharged from hospital and the work has undoubtedly contributed to our local acute hospital avoiding becoming overwhelmed during the height of the pandemic.  This is all the more impressive given that the service was set up in a matter of weeks when ordinarily new services can take several months to implement. 

So Proud of the Team
The commitment and dedication of the Rapid Response Team to make a success of this work is inspiring, not only in the Hub but in manging the increased referrals to the community particularly in terms of therapy assessment. And we are indebted to colleagues from the Community Neurological service, the Muskulo-skeletal physiotherapy service, and other services for the support their therapists have provided to meet this increased demand.  In the words of Doctor Mohit Venkataram, Executive Commercial Director  “You all are an amazing team and a credit to the organisation