Fire service working with GPs to reduce fire-related deaths in Hastings

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East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is embracing a successful GP Referral Scheme in a bid to reduce fire-related deaths.

Hastings is the latest town to implement the new GP Referral Scheme, which has already proven successful in three other towns across their service area.

The scheme has been instrumental in reducing the number of accidents, injuries and falls, within clients’ homes, and therefore making them safer. It is estimated that within the first six months up to 134 clients whom the NHS had anticipated to have become injured within their home did not as a result of the service’s intervention.

Head of Community Safety, David Kemp, explains how the GP referral scheme came into existence: “We have been sharing Adult Social Care data for a number of years to identify vulnerable clients, without having to rely on busy people referring their clients one by one.

“We have seen considerable success through this process; in the last two years we have had no fire-related deaths of clients form the cohort of elderly, living alone with life-limiting illnesses/lack of mobility.

“Nationally, only 20 per cent of vulnerable older people are known to Adult Social Care so we started approaching GP Practices to ask them to identify patients who were at risk of injury, or accidents, at home whom we could visit and improve their safety within the home through a Home Safety Visit.

“The evaluation of this collaboration has shown some encouraging early results and on the basis of these more Clinical Commissioning Groups are approaching us to become involved in the scheme.

“Referrals by GPs of this patient group will also identify those at risk within their homes, who are not necessarily elderly and frail but may be at risk through illness such as dementia, alcohol dependency or a range of issues that are not necessarily age-related, and all of which pose an additional risk in relation to accidental dwelling fires.”

Hastings crews will be given a direct link to some of the most vulnerable residents in the town. Mosaic information will be utilised, in conjunction with NHS data, to pinpoint the key areas of deprivation and health inequality, which we know are linked to increased fire-related incidents.

Group manager, Julie King, said: “This GP referral scheme gives us a fantastic tool to not only reduce fires but to reduce hospital admissions as well. One of the latest fatalities in Hastings was both smoking and alcohol-related, and this type of intervention could have had a profound impact on saving a life.”

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