Hanley homeless health clinics ease the pressure on North Staffordshire's A&E services
NEW drop-in health clinics for homeless people have slashed the numbers descending on under-pressure A&E services in North Staffordshire.
The Hanley-based service is aimed at providing basic care to rough sleepers who turn up at the emergency unit because they do not have a GP.
Research into the soaring demand on A&E found that in the year before the scheme was launched, the same 21 homeless people racked up a staggering 275 visits.
But new figures collected during the clinic's first 12 months show the same patients were responsible for just 14 attendances.
Visiting the Home & Garden show this Sunday?
We will have some exclusive deals for you so make sure you visit our stand and say hello
Terms: With free entry just visit the show at the Moat House hotel Festival Park between 11am and 4pm and pick up a leaflet
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Sunday, June 23 2013
The breakthrough has won the NHS community matron behind the clinic an NHS Innovation Challenge Prize of £75,000 as part of new national awards recognising inventive ways of working.
It was handed to Jane Morton by health secretary Jeremy Hunt at a London ceremony.
Now Jane, who works for the community NHS trust, the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership, will plough the cash into her work.
The 44-year-old from Longton, said: "Under the NHS everyone is entitled to healthcare – but it was clear here was a large group missing out.
"These are people leading chaotic lives so you wouldn't expect them to turn up bright and punctual for hospital appointments.
"The scale of the problem emerged when A&E did a breakdown for the first time of the type of patients attending most frequently.
"It was obvious we were going to have to take the care out to them to have any impact."
Jane established the clinics with the help of workers from Hanley-based charity Brighter Futures at its city centre hostel.
Teams of health experts working with prostitutes and rough sleepers are also on hand to direct homeless people to services to address their wider physical, mental and social health including the alcohol liaison team at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
Jane, who was in the finals of The Sentinel's Our Heroes awards two years ago, said the new clinics had a slow start, but have become increasingly popular as word spreads.
She added: "There's a stigma attached to being homeless and at the start of the clinics there was a reluctance by them to attend my sessions.
"Many had such poor hospital experiences previously.
"But slowly people started to trust us and now our clinics are often full.
"The reward is the feedback we get from patients who had been missing out on care so long and lurching from crisis to crisis."
Brighter Futures chief executive Gill Brown who joined in the award, said : "Jane is truly dedicated to her role. Many of these people are turned away by mainstream GP practices and therefore end up in A&E."