Almost 300 helped in first four months of Norfolk Early Intervention Vehicle pilot

Ambulance staff and occupational therapists who will be working on the early intervention falls vehicle.

Hundreds have received extra support from a project to help Norfolk patients who have suffered a fall. The Early Intervention Vehicle (EIV) was launched in February as part of a scheme between the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C).

In the first four months of the pilot project, senior emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and occupational therapists were dispatched to almost 300 patients in North Norfolk, South Norfolk and Norwich. And thanks to the care provided at home, more than 60 percent of those patients did not require transport to hospital.

In May, the EIV has helped to save the NHS over £200,000 by reducing hospital admissions and relieving pressure on ambulance resources. The project also gives patients help and support to help avoid falls in the future.

Terry Hicks, EEAST Sector Head for Norfolk and Waveney, said, “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. We have also responded to patients that benefit from earlier support, who have not fallen but who are still unwell – especially those with terminal conditions or with complex needs.

“In the first few months of EIV we have reduced 999 responses to elderly falls patients, reduced emergency admissions, and repeat fallers are falling less. The project has the potential to save the NHS £2.5m a year, and more if the project is extended beyond a single response unit.

“The partnership with the community health trust has also had a positive response from patients and carers as they have received rapid referrals for extra or enhanced packages of care and social care where required.”

Lorrayne Barrett, Director of Norfolk Adult Operations and Integration at NCH&C, said, “I’m very pleased that this project has been so successful. This is a great example of how working in partnership with our NHS and social care colleagues means we are able to work more efficiently together, and helps us to better deliver care to our patients.

“The EIV ensures we can target the right support straight away to people in the community who have had a fall. The OT can assess and expedite referrals to the correct services – health and social care. By promoting independence in this way we can avoid their unnecessary admission to hospital and the person can remain in their own home. It’s a perfect example of partnership working.”