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A paramedic slashed the number of people clogging up A&E with unnecessary visits by 90% – by meeting them for coffee and a chat.
Rhian Monteith’s simple idea could save the NHS tens of millions of pounds and bosses want it to go UK-wide.
The 39-year-old drew up a list of 23 “frequent callers”– many lonely or with mental health problems – who had visited A&E 703 times in three months.
After a coffee meeting she mentored them, getting them to call her not 999.
This cut their A&E visits and ambulance call-outs in Blackpool by 90% and Rhian said: “I’m incredibly proud to see how my idea has grown.
“It shows, if you are armed with a phone and a high level of emotional intelligence, the difference you can have to people who need a hand up in life.
“Every individual is put in contact with a person who cares about them, and stands with them in their time of need.”
The High Intensity User scheme was scaled up to 300 patients in Blackpool over three years, saving £2 million.
It is now used in a fifth of the country and NHS England wants the rest to follow.
In 2016 the cost across the NHS of the estimated 5,000 “frequent callers” – defined as calling five times a month or 12 times in three months – was put at around 3% of spending or £53 million.
Tessa Walton, head of NHS Delivery, called the programme a “fantastic example” of finding new ways of working.
She added: “The fact that it was an advanced paramedic working on the front line demonstrates that a good idea can have a huge impact across the NHS.”
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