Boost for UCLH projects aiming to 'close the gap' 

14/04/2011 00:00 

Two UCLH projects have received nearly £800,000 between them to help improve health services for hard to reach people and give them greater control over their own care.

Boost for UCLH projects aiming to 'close the gap'

The projects will empower mums-to-be by revolutionising the way women receive their maternity care and improve access to healthcare for homeless patients.

Both schemes were awarded £400,000 by the Health Foundation, an independent charity which works to continuously improve the quality of healthcare in the UK.

The foundation’s Closing the Gap: Changing Relationships programme selected eight major projects for grants of £400,000 over two years. The programme aims to develop a healthcare system where people have greater control over their care.

The UCLH projects are:

M(ums) power: putting women at the centre of antenatal care

Pregnancy is a normal physiological process that produces a range of changes and anxieties that most women manage within complex, busy lives. But services often meet the priorities of healthcare professionals rather than the needs and preferences of the women they serve, resulting in dissatisfaction, inefficiency and, for some, a reluctance to engage. This project will work alongside pregnant women to develop an integrated online solution that offers quality-assured information, linked in with tools such as real-time appointment booking. The overall aim is to transform antenatal services in order to enable women and put their needs at the heart of antenatal care.

Professor Donald Peebles, UCLH consultant obstetrician leading the project, said: “In essence women will be much more in control of their antenatal care and will be setting the agenda much more than they do now. As women go through their pregnancy they will be linked to appropriate, best quality information and have much improved access to health care professionals”

The project will put mums-to-be in the driving seat when it comes to their care, improve the quality of services and save the NHS money. It will also make it much easier for women to stay in contact with their named midwife and lead to better sharing of information between hospitals and community care.
Professor Peebles added: “Managing some of your antenatal care and accessing healthcare professionals from home will be more convenient for busy women and also lead to a massive cost saving for the NHS. For example, just a small reduction in the number of antenatal visits for women at low risk of complications will save a lot of money.”

Promoting compassionate healthcare for homeless people

A project based at University College Hospital which is improving access to healthcare for homeless patients will also benefit from a Health Foundation grant.

The London Pathway, a project set up with funding from UCLH Charity, uses a dedicated homelessness nurse and GP to make sure that homeless patients get all the care they need – including support after they have left the safety of the hospital.
It has reduced admissions of homeless people to UCH by 3.2 days per patient, which equates to savings of £300,000 a year.
The grant will support the continued development of the service at UCH and the addition of London Pathway Care Navigators to our homeless health teams. London Pathway Care Navigators are people with personal experience of homelessness who will work alongside specialist medical staff in hospitals to befriend, mentor and support homeless patients during their time in hospital and, crucially, in the immediate discharge period. 
The funding will also help the London Pathway share its achievements at UCH with colleagues at the Royal London Hospital and Brighton and Sussex NHS Trusts.

Alex Bax, chief executive of the London Pathway said: "Becoming part of the Health Foundation's Closing the Gap programme is tremendously exciting. The rigorous external evaluations that will come out of Closing the Gap will help us learn in much more detail which are the key components of our service model and provide vital evidence to others in the NHS about the value of the work we do.  Central to our approach is putting homeless patients at the centre of their care, and changing medical relationships around them, and this is the core focus of the Health Foundation's programme. We are also looking forward to learning from the other projects taking part in the scheme.

Click here to find out more about the Health Foundation Closing the Gap project.


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