Integrated Virtual Clinical Hub

On Monday 3 October, senior managers from the Trust’s Urgent Care and NHS 111 services met with NHS England Urgent Care and regional Commissioning leads to discuss plans to establish a North West Integrated Virtual Clinical Hub (IVCH) to improve access to urgent clinical assessment, advice and treatment for the benefit of both patients and clinicians across the region. 

NWAS is one of several NHS organisations across the country who have received additional funding to lead on establishing local and regional clinical hubs which will provide expert clinical advice and support to patients as well as professionals working in out-of-hospital settings, 24 hours-a-day.  They will do this by bringing together resources from NHS 111, Out-of-Hours and urgent care services in the community.

The move is part of NHS England’s ongoing Urgent and Emergency Care Review which will see a streamlining of the way urgent care services are provided around the country.  It comes as local health services are responding to the highest ever number of ambulance calls, A&E attendances and emergency admissions in NHS history.

Speaking of the meeting with NHS leads, NWAS Regional Manager for Urgent Care Operations, Jackie Bell, who is leading the IVCH programme for the Trust, commented:  “As the only NHS Trust operating across the whole North West region, we are best placed to lead on this service development programme.  It is really encouraging to receive such positive feedback from regional and national NHS leads at this early stage of the programme.  They were impressed with the work we have undertaken to date, the collaborations we’ve established with other NHS organisations and our plans for the future development of the programme.”

NWAS’s IVCH programme has been enabled through dedicated CQUIN Programme of Change funding awarded earlier this year.  It involves a number of pilots which aim to bring urgent care access, treatment and clinical advice into much closer alignment across the region, through a consistent and integrated NHS 111 and 999 service. In order to achieve this, the Trust is collaborating with several NHS organisations across the region in a number of local pilots focussed on integrating frontline pharmacy advice, reducing A&E attendance by redirecting appropriate low acuity patients into primary care services and improving frontline help and advice for mental health patients.

Jackie continued: “The integration of urgent care services is about providing improved access to key healthcare services when people need them most and ensuring those working in urgent care are equipped to make best use of their collective skills and resources to improve outcomes.”

The IVCH programme will continue for the rest of the financial year with the development of further service pilots until March 2017. At that point the achievements and impact of the programme will be evaluated by the Trust, regional commissioners and NHS England in order to assess its future sustainability and secure its continued funding.

Jackie added: “It is great to know we are already setting the bar in so many areas for other clinical hubs across the country – the success of the pilots we’re implementing this year are key to ensuring we can continue to do that and firmly establish an effective, fully integrated virtual clinical hub in the North West.”

For further information about the North West IVCH programme, please contact the Trust’s programme team at IVCH@nwas.nhs.uk