A PIONEERING partnership between Royal Surrey County Hospital (RSCH) and a number of GP practices to provide adult community health services in Haslemere and the surrounding area, comes into effect last weekend.

The 16 rehabilitation beds at Haslemere Hospital and its minor injuries unit come under adult community health services, as do Milford Hospital’s beds, district nursing and community matron services, and community rehabilitation teams, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, diabetes and respiratory specialist nurses, podiatry and lymphoedema teams.

RSCH and ProCare, a federation of 18 GP practices, successfully bid against current provider Virgin Care for the adult community services contract, which is worth £13.8million annually and will run for nine years.

The current Virgin Care staff members, who number more than 260, will be transferred under an agreement protecting terms and conditions of employment.

Originally scheduled to come on line at the end of the month, the introduction of the new service was brought forward to last weekend, so as not to clash with the Easter weekend.

The Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, working in partnership with Procare Health, a federation for GP practices in Guildford and Waverley, have taken over adult community health services previously undertaken by Virgin Care.

It is the first time an acute trust has joined forces with a GP federation to provide adult community health services which focus on support and care for patients in the community.

Among its aims are to maintain patients’ health and independence and prevent unnecessary hospital admission.

It also complements the services provided by GP practices, Royal Surrey County Hospital and other healthcare organisations.

Haslemere and Milford Community Hospitals will continue to provide rehabilitation care to patients admitted into hospital and Haslemere minor injuries service will not be affected by the transfer, nor will the medical and therapy out-patient services.

The partnership aims to brings together the three main components of healthcare delivery for Guildford and Waverley to provide joined up care for the population.

Working together over the coming months towards a service with a single point of access, the new service is set to ensure that any health professional working in the community, including GPs, nurses, therapists and paramedics and the hospital team will be able to refer patients into the service.

Patients will then be assessed and a tailored package of care put together, overseen by a team led by an experienced community nurse, who will have the support of GP colleagues when needed.

Benefits of the new scheme will include rapid access to specialist advice; care support at home; home assessment by a nurse or a therapist, enhanced care package from social care at home and community or acute hospital admission.

This week, borough councillor Robert Knowles urged Haslemere Hospital’s minor injuries unit to be extended.

He said:“I am pleased to see the continuation of vital services at Haslemere but would very much hope the hours of the minor injuries unit can be extended to include weekends.

“This could reduce demands on A&E at both RSCH and other hospitals in the Haslemere catchment area.”