Physio and OT mobility team save NHS Grampian £3 million

A physiotherapist and an occupational therapist have helped NHS Grampian save nearly £3 million, by providing patients with mobility assessments within A&E.

Physio Susan Brown and OT Alicea Ross

Physio Susan Brown and OT Alicea Rossare are involved in the health board’s HAME (Home and Mobility Evaluation) project, which has been running at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary since August last year, as well as being part of a team tasked with related duties over the last three years.

During this time, the team have been based in the hospital’s emergency department, where their clinical caseload has included assessing the mobility of patients soon after they arrive.

The ongoing initiative allows the therapists to see and assess incoming patients at a much earlier stage and, as a result, more patients are discharged home - some directly to community hospitals – and the team are preventing hundreds of unnecessary admissions.

‘The main aim was to embed Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy “at the front door” to reduce unnecessary admissions to the acute hospital and support patient flow,’ Ms Brown said.

‘The work helps support safe discharge from the acute setting to either home or community rehab.

‘Having dedicated physios and OTs in the emergency department allows us to see more patients and have quicker referral to assessment times.’

Impressive results

Since 2016, the team has dealt with more than 2,100 patient referrals, with more than 1,600 being discharged home as a result.

And last year, they saw 97per cent of patients referred to them within one hour, and dealt with 863 referrals - providing an estimated £1.1 million saving to the hospital.

Ms Brown added that the project provides additional benefits for the patients, and the hospital in a wider sense.

‘One of the things we see is that as soon as we get somebody up an​​​​​​​d walking around and we sit them in a chair they have the mental mindset of 'actually, I am well enough to go home',’ she explained.

‘That psychological impact and the fact that if you get someone up in a chair their breathing automatically improves rather than being flat on a bed, that has a huge impact.’

The therapists were previously part of the health board’s OPAL (older persons assessment and liaison) team, which saw them assessing patients in A&E while also having other clinical commitments.

But last year they were then given a nine-month secondment, as part of NHS Scotland’s 6 essential actions programme, to ascertain if basing them exclusively in the emergency department would bring more benefits.​​​​​​​

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