Concerns have been raised for the safety of patients in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire over plans to cut an emergency team which supports pensioners in their own home.
Tracy Dowling, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), said she was “deeply concerned for the safety of patients in the community” over the expected demise of the Joint Emergency Team (JET).
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - which commissions health services in the county - is expected to scrap the JET at today’s board meeting (Tuesday) in a bid to cut its multi-million pound deficit.
The JET is an urgent two or four-hour response service which supports people over the age of 65 or those with long-term conditions in their own home when they become very unwell and need urgent care, but do not need to go to hospital.
The team carries out an initial assessment and develops a care plan in liaison with the patient’s GP.
The team is 45 strong and receives about 10,000 patient contacts a year, for instance when a person has suffered a fall or reduced mobility or a current illness has worsened.
The service, which costs £3.6 million a year, is run by CPFT, the provider of community health services for older people and those with long-term conditions, as well as mental health services.
Ms Dowling said: “Given the ongoing financial pressures on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough health system we fully understand the need for commissioners to closely examine every area of its expenditure.
“However, we are deeply concerned for the safety of patients in the community should the recommendation to decommission the Joint Emergency Team be decided. This service is more than an admission avoidance service – it is the urgent care community service.
“We have written to the CCG to outline the view of CPFT on the potential impacts of such a decision on both patients and on our dedicated, frontline NHS staff who are currently employed to deliver this specialist service.
“JET has proved to be highly innovative and effective in delivering urgent care to patients in their own home and preventing unnecessary admissions to already under-pressure acute hospitals. The service is one that the NHS Long Term Plan requires all parts of the country to establish.
“As a trust we have consistently ensured all our services remain effective and efficient. This service sees approximately 10,000 patients a year and on average patients are receiving urgent community care within two hours of making a call.”
The CCG, which has also been criticised for cutting NHS-funded IVF treatment, said a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) had reviewed the JET service, which has been in operation since 2016.
The findings, according to its board papers, are that the service is “partially duplicating” the work of others and that the MDT “could not quantify improved outcomes as a result of service interventions”.
It also said the JET was not “cost effective” as it had not been proven to prevent admissions to frontline health services.
Moreover, the report stated that the estimated cost of seeing a patient through the service was £400 compared to an estimated £116 for an Out of Hours GP home visit and £180 for an ambulance call out.
A petition has also been set up in opposition to the expected cut. It is addressed to Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly.