HOSPITAL patients in Southend will be offered care at home under new plans to reduce bedblocking and tackle long delays.

The new scheme, called Southend Enhanced Discharge Service (SEDS), aims to get patients discharged earlier than normal and will see them given regular checks from health professionals from the comfort of their home.

NHS guidance is that 95 per cent of patients attending accident and emergency departments should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

But May’s figures show that a third of patients who were in need of the most serious A&E care at the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust - which runs Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals - waited longer than four hours to be seen.

The care will be on offer to those patients who live alone or who don’t have access to support.

Bosses say the project will help recovering patients who may be at risk of falling at home, people with chest infections, or those with mobility issues.

They hope it will ease the pressure on Southend Hospital, which has been blighted with reports of long delays and lengthy ambulance queues outside A&E.

The scheme is being piloted until September and is being jointly funded by Southend Council and Southend Clinical Commissioning Group which oversees local healthcare.

John Walter, head of integrated care for the hospitals trust, said: “SEDS sees us being able to offer some of our older patients a temporary close level of support with care, occupational therapy and physiotherapy at home once they have left hospital, helping them in the short-term whilst they get their independence back.

“So far, this pilot scheme has supported 20 patients at home, with some no longer needing ongoing care.”

The new patients assessment scheme also comes after the hospital opened a new state-ofthe-art £1.2 million two-storey outpatients building to help ease pressure.

Kay Mitchell, Southend councillor responsible for adult social care and health integration, said: “This service is a collaborative effort as it brings together hospital staff, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and community workers to collectively support people to get home, and stay home, after a hospital stay.”