More than 600 patients have received the support they need and avoided inappropriate hospital admission or contact with emergency services thanks to a Walsall community team.
The High Intensity User (HIU) Team was set up five years ago to work with partners to better address the needs of patients who call on emergency services or attend the Emergency Department when they have housing, mental health, isolation or substance misuse issues for example. The team revealed that one patient had contacted emergency services a total of 679 times since the start of 2022 up until autumn – including their GP, NHS 111, West Midlands Ambulance Service, the Urgent Care Centre and Walsall’s Emergency Department with their mental and physical health concerns.
The HIU Team works directly with patients to reduce the number of times they make contact inappropriately with emergency services. The HIU team within Walsall Community Services Division, currently consists of two members of staff: Ranjit Paul (HIU Lead) and Amie Douglas (HIU Support Worker).
Ranjit said: “Our healthcare services are here for all but, working with partners, we need to protect our Emergency Department and wards at the Manor Hospital from unnecessary attendances, admissions and bed days. And we need to ensure that our paramedics and GPs also have capacity to respond to those who really need them.
“We also work with patients who must attend emergency and urgent care settings as a result of care pathways breaking down to understand their experience better and focus on the standard of care received. The team works with multiple other teams and departments within Walsall’s hospital and community services to offer advice, guidance and support to those who see HIUs.”
Ranjit added that over the last five years, 600 patients had been supported and the team is dedicated to reducing inappropriate attendances and admissions.
“This improves the healthcare experience for patients who absolutely need our services and supports individuals to access other services appropriately.”
Ranjit highlighted one particular case involving a patient in their thirties who had had 679 contacts with a health professional since the start of 2022, including their GP, NHS 111, paramedics, the Urgent Treatment Centre and the Emergency Department.
She explained: “The HIU Team established a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meeting to develop a detailed plan to ensure the patient’s physical and mental health needs were met. The MDT also addressed their unacceptable behaviours and the introduction of boundaries as demands on services had continued to escalate.
“The patient and their family joined the MDT meeting to discuss and confirm the appropriate use of each service as well any limitations and this helped to raise awareness of the negative impact upon services by inappropriate use, from just one patient.
“Since the MDT meeting there have been no further inappropriate contacts and the patient has received support from the HIU Team through interventions including contact with voluntary organisations. The patient has also started a course which is helping their mental wellbeing.
The team continues to work collaboratively with health and social care professionals, commissioners and voluntary organisations within the borough and surrounding areas.