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ICT cover image compressedA strengthened health and social care service for Gloucester is being launched this month which will see health professionals respond to urgent calls within one hour.

From Wednesday 22 January Integrated Community Teams (ICTs) managed by Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust will offer a rapid response service – meaning they will provide urgent assessments within an hour – and a high intensity service offering ongoing additional care and support at home once an urgent situation has been stabilised.

The new services follow a £3.9m countywide investment from NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (GCCG) which is funding recruitment of extra front-line staff. It is also funding the staff for a 24-hour contact number for health professionals to co-ordinate the teams and manage capacity.

These initiatives will help join up and improve the care provided to the county’s growing older population, support people with long-term conditions and help prevent admissions to hospital by providing high quality care at home.

“This marks the start of important changes in the way we provide urgent health and social care in the county,” explained Susan Field, director of adult services at Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust.

“The ability to provide round-the-clock, urgent care in a community setting means patients can be treated in the most appropriate place for their clinical need, while helping reduce the pressure on community hospitals and acute services. I look forward to seeing this initiative extend across the county in the coming months.”

Dr Helen Miller, Clinical Chair at GCCG, said health services in the county faced the challenge of caring for an increasing ageing population with more complex health needs.

She added: “We are investing in ICTs to improve existing community services and the health of people in Gloucestershire. Working closely with GPs ICTs can support people who would otherwise end up in hospital. They also carry out vital work in prevention and rehabilitation to ensure that people live well, and independently, for as long as possible.”

ICTs have been in place in Gloucestershire for two years and are made up of community nurses, reablement workers, physiotherapists, social workers and occupational therapists working alongside GPs. They offer support, advice and specialist equipment to help people remain as independent as possible in the community after an injury, operation or exacerbation of their existing condition.

The new rapid response and high intensity services are the result of joint work between GCS, Gloucestershire County Council and South West Ambulance Services Foundation Trust as well as GCCG. These services will initially cover Gloucester but are expected to expand to Cheltenham by the end of March, with a roll-out to the rest of the county later in the year.

Cllr Andrew Gravells, cabinet member for older people at Gloucestershire County Council, welcomed the new initiative, saying: “Offering greater choice and flexibility to support more people safely in their own homes is a priority for the county council, and we are committed to greater integration of health and social care teams across Gloucestershire to achieve this.  These new services will make a big difference for people, allowing them to remain safe and supported at home.”