Scheme supports man whose social issues saw him at A&E twice a week

Health Improvement Practitioner Rebecca Westhorpe (left. Photo: Norfolk CCGs

Health Improvement Practitioner Rebecca Westhorpe (left. Photo: Norfolk CCGs - Credit: Norfolk CCGs

A man whose life was lonely and chaotic was turning up at A&E as often as twice a week because he did not know how to access help.

Chris - not his real name - was unwell with no family to stay with and he was suffering from a serious condition that often resulted in the need for hospital treatment.

The condition made it difficult for Chris to eat and drink which made him dizzy, and sometimes liable to falls.

He said: "I was at a really low point by this time. I have always been self-sufficient and never really been the type to ask for help."

But as his social problems spiralled - he did not have the money to buy food, was not on the right benefits, and was in rent arrears - his mental health plummeted, leading to him calling 999 often.

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Chris was picked up by an innovative scheme which supports people who go to A&E due to social issues and do not know where else to turn.

The Health Improvement Service which helped Chris launched as a pilot 18 months ago, and has now been commissioned as a permanent fixture provided by Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCHC).

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It means if someone is identified as a frequent attender at A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the service will get in touch with them to offer help.

Chris' health improvement practitioner said: "Chris knew he needed help but was overwhelmed and didn't know how to ask or where to start. With my encouragement he has let people in so they can help stabilise his life."

Chris has not dialled 999 or visited A&E since, and has started to look for work again. He said: "It was good to have someone who was on my level and not against me. I feel I have come a long way."

The service has now helped more than 300 people and Mark Burgiss, locality director at Norwich, North and South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: "The scheme has made a really positive impact on lives of the patients who have been supported. Good health relies on a number of factors, many of which might be related to social issues.

"The service concentrates on ensuring these patients receive the most appropriate support and help that they need."

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