NHS enlists help of fire service to reduce winter pressures

The NHS has sought the help of the fire service in a new health partnership aimed at tackling health and social problems and reducing winter pressures.

NHS England, Public Health England, the Fire and Rescue Service, Age UK and the Local Government Association have signed a consensus agreeing to work together to prevent or minimise service demand, and improve the quality of life of people suffering from long-term conditions.

The fire service currently carries out 670,000 home safety checks each year, assessing the homes of the vulnerable and offering advice on how to make them safer.

The consensus will enable firefighters across the country to carry out more ‘safe and well’ checks in people’s homes when they visit. As well as reducing the risks of a fire, the ‘safe and well’ checks will aim to reduce health risks such as falls, loneliness and isolation and therefore reduce visits to A&E, broken hips and depression.

Simon Stevens, NHS England CEO, said:

‘Fire service home visits already prevent fires, and now will help prevent falls, accidents and trips to casualty.’

‘It’s great to see two of the most trusted public services getting creative about jointly supporting vulnerable people to stay healthy and independent,’ he added.

Paul Hancock, President of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said:

‘By working in partnership with health professionals we can help to protect some of our most vulnerable residents, while improving people’s quality of life.’

He added: ‘The Safe and Well checks will help to identify issues at an early stage, which could reduce the likelihood of older people being admitted to hospital by focusing on prevention measures. Firefighters carrying out these checks already have a high level of trust from the people they are visiting and will be able to give help and advice on a wide range of issues, while helping to keep our older residents safer.’

The consensus was launched on national Older People’s Day on 1 October at a World Health Organization conference.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 22 October 2015.

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