Local nurses to provide additional winter care for children

Following a successful pilot project last winter, community-based nurses have stepped up to ensure children who are unwell can be seen quickly during the busy winter months.  Their support will also reduce the pressure on GP, urgent care and hospital services and ensure more cost effective use of NHS money.

Specialist nurse practitioners from Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale’s Children’s Community Nursing Team, part of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, have launched dedicated winter clinics in partnership with the following GP practices: Dr Babar and Partners’ Surgery, Dr Behima Surgery, Dr Ghafoor and Abassi Surgery, Dr Hamid’s practice, Inspire Medical Centre, Kirkholt Medical Practice, Dr Syed’s Practice and Wellfield Health Centre.                                                                    

These practices can refer children to the clinics during very busy periods when they are unable to offer an appointment quickly, which will reduce the likelihood that parents will unnecessarily take their child to urgent care or hospital services instead.

The clinics are for children aged from birth to 16 years, who are registered at the above practices.  The nurses are equipped with enhanced skills enabling them to assess, diagnose and treat a range of conditions, including coughs and colds, sore throats, rashes and high temperatures.  They are also able to prescribe medication if required. 

Last year’s clinics supported more than 120 of the borough’s children and received unanimous positive feedback from parents – 100 per cent said they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with the care they received and ‘satisfied’ with the advice and treatment they received.

The feedback from parents also provided strong evidence for the reduced demand on urgent care and hospital services, with 30 per cent of respondents saying they would have taken their child to A&E if it wasn’t for the clinics and a further 30 per cent saying they would have attended the Urgent Care Centre.

The clinics are currently running twice a week, however this will increase to three days a week during January and then to five days a week during February and March.  The scheme will end on 28 March 2015.

Josie Whitehouse-Strudwick, Children’s Community Sister for Pennine Care, said:  “It’s well known that GP, urgent care and hospital services face significant additional demand during the winter, when mild to moderate illnesses are more common.  We hope that these clinics will help to alleviate some of these pressures.

“We provide care for children and young people all year round and have the necessary skills to ensure children can be seen quickly by a community-based service which can meet their needs.

“We’re pleased to be working in partnership with local GPs to achieve our mutual aim of ensuring patients experience the very best health and wellbeing.”

Parents of children registered at the above practices are advised that, if their child is unwell, they should contact their GP practice as normal.  If there are no available appointments, and where appropriate, their practice will provide them with contact details for the Children’s Community Nursing Team.  They will then be given a clinic appointment.

The project has been developed in partnership with NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (HMR CCG). 

Dr Danielle Peet, NHS HMR CCG’s clinical lead for children’s services, said: “The children's specialist nursing team model has been shown to reduce emergency admissions when working closely with GPs. The winter clinics are designed to complement and support existing primary care services, treating children closer to home, without replacing the important work GP practices already do.”

Pennine Care and NHS HMR CCG, along with other local partners, are working as part of the Children and Young People’s Partnership to support all children and young people in the Rochdale borough to achieve their full potential.