Rapid Response team aims to ease burden of St Albans and Watford Hospitals

The launch of the Rapid Response team at St Albans City hospital L-R Team manager John Harle, therap

The launch of the Rapid Response team at St Albans City hospital L-R Team manager John Harle, therapist lead Rose Aknai, chief executive David Law, office manager Lynda Beasley, St Albans MP Anne Main, locality manager Charlie Cadogan and senior nurse Joanne Gray - Credit: Archant

Easing pressure on struggling hospitals by treating more patients at home is at the centre of a new urgent care service, launched in St Albans.

Paramedics, specialist nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and healthcare assistants make up the Rapid Response Team (RRT).

At its official launch at St Albans City Hospital recently, spokesman Charlie Cadogan said: “Our aim is to prevent admissions to hospitals and facilitate earlier supported discharges, keeping very complex patients at home, safely, where they would prefer to be.”

Charlie, who is Herts Community NHS Trust’s (HCT) locality manager for St Albans and Harpenden, explained that GPs could refer patients to the service, which was able to respond within 60 minutes.

He said: “For example if someone falls on the floor, and they have not broken any limbs or done anything that would require them to be taken to A&E, we would see them at home.

“The service is predominantly a referral one, and about half of those referrals are about mobility issues. One of the things we have noticed in St Albans is there is a high incidence of alcoholism in some areas, so there is a high incidence of referral to Watford General Hospital as a result of alcohol-related incidents, so we can be with those patients very quickly.

“We can make them safe, and make sure through our many connections with other services, that they are warm and have food.

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“Senior clinicians will delegate the appropriate medical person, physio, mental health nurse or paramedic, depending on the situation. But we don’t get the 999 calls. Most of our referrals will be from GPs, as the service is aimed at sub-acute patients, to help prevent admission into hospital, and take pressure from A&E.”

St Albans MP Anne Main, who attended the launch, said: “People are living longer now, so the RRT will be vital in helping them to get back on their feet in their own homes.”

She said residents had been asking for this type of service “for some time”.

The team is a partnership between HCT, social care workers, mental health nurses and Age UK to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ to treat and keep people well in their own homes.