Team keeping people out of hospital celebrates supporting 500th patient

A clinical team dedicated to helping people avoid lengthy hospital stays while continuing long-term treatment is celebrating supporting their 500th patient.

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The Outpatient Parenteral Antibiotic Therapy (OPAT) team from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust reached the impressive milestone after supporting patient Geoffrey Briggs to return home on his birthday.

Geoffrey is among the patients in Lincolnshire who need long-term intravenous (IV) antibiotics, but otherwise do not require any further medical intervention.

The OPAT team’s role is to ensure patients can safely transition out of hospital, or to provide the specialist intervention that means they can be prevented from being admitted in the first place.

Since the team was formed in 2019, they have prevented patients from collectively spending more than 10,000 days in hospital.

Nurse Specialist Sally Blow said: “We are so proud of the difference we’ve been able to make to patients living in Lincolnshire. We know that a hospital is not always the best place to receive care and many of our patients would rather be in the comfort of their own home and close to loved ones wherever possible.

“Our team works closely with other health professionals in our hospitals and in the community to provide specialist advice and assessment, offering an alternative choice for patients to have their antibiotics administered safely outside of hospital.

“By preventing these patients from being admitted or helping them to return home more quickly, we can improve their experiences and helps hospital beds to be available for others in need of inpatient medical care.”

Working closely with Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust’s IV Therapy team, the OPAT team can support up to 14 patients every day. These patients are provided with full monitoring and support in the community in their homes while they continue to receive IV antibiotics.

This close working is an example of the seamless flow of care organisations aspire patients to experience between the hospital setting and the community. ULHT and LCHS have now come together in a Group arrangement, known as the Lincolnshire Community and Hospitals NHS Group, to strengthen this further.

Patient Geoffrey Briggs celebrated his 82nd birthday on Scampton ward at Lincoln County Hospital, but was able to return home to his wife Shirley later that same day thanks to the OPAT team.

Geoffrey had been in hospital for seven weeks after collapsing due to an infection, and was able to return home almost three weeks earlier than anticipated. He said: “I feel so lucky to be looked after by the OPAT team. I was starting to feel very down in myself being in hospital when I could walk, get myself dressed and be independent. It was very frustrating. I wanted to be at home with my wife.”

Geoffrey, who lives in a village near Lincoln, added: “The service has been so convenient. I can now spend time in my own home and it’s wonderful. I am so appreciative of it all.”