New team will support patients at home to free up beds at Ipswich Hospital

REACT, which stands for ‘Reactive Emergency Assessment Community Team’, brings together staff based at the hospital and colleagues working within community healthcare. It will be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The team will receive referrals from GPs and ambulance staff for patients who have reached crisis point. Members will then carry out a comprehensive assessment in the patient’s own home with the aim of preventing them from needing hospital treatment.

REACT will also assess patients in Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department and emergency assessment unit before putting appropriate support in place to allow them to be discharged, wherever possible. This includes up to five days of ongoing crisis management support.

The project is an example of work taking place across Suffolk to join up care more closely, support prevention work and tackle rising demand.

Two alliances have been created to drive this vision, which are made up of Ipswich Hospital in the east and West Suffolk Hospital in the west, both supported by Suffolk County Council, Suffolk GP Federation and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr John Oates, a GP in Saxmundham and integrated care lead for Ipswich and East Suffolk NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The older population in Suffolk continues to grow. This means it is vital to ensure patients receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place. Supporting people to remain at home rather than spend unnecessary time in hospital also makes them far more likely to maintain their independence, in turn reducing their reliance on health services in the future.

“REACT will help us to achieve these aims by providing dedicated, 24/7 care across east Suffolk. This means we can better manage demand for health services and empower patients to remain independent at home wherever possible, in turn keeping hospital beds free for those in the greatest clinical need.”

The NHS is being pushed to breaking point this winter, with hospitals beds full, ambulance services stretched and patients queuing in corridors to be seen at A&E.