WIRRAL Community NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Karen Howell writes for the Globe ...

IN my last column I shared how here at the Community Trust we were all eagerly anticipating the arrival of our new adult social care assessment colleagues.

I am delighted to report we had a wonderful welcome event for more than 200 adult social care staff that officially joined the NHS last week.

It was fabulous to see so much enthusiasm and passion for our new integrated health and social care service, which is going to be such a positive move for people in Wirral.

This week I would like to tell you about another superb ini- tiative that will help to improve health services.

I'm delighted that we have recruited two former senior paramedics, Mat- thew Kennan and Richard Evans, to join our GP out-of-hours team as Urgent Care Practitioners.

They have a wealth of clinical experience and knowledge from their previous roles and will be working across the GP out of hours service; triaging patients on the phone, seeing patients at the centre and visiting sick patients who require home visits during the night and at weekends.

In addition Matt and Richie will be using high quality iPad Skype systems to liaise with GP colleagues back at base around more complex home visit cases.

This is another example of the Trust modernising its approach to service delivery, so we're delighted to welcome Matt and Richie.

Meanwhile, you might recall back in January I mentioned a new tele-triage service we were going to pilot with a number of Wirral care homes.

That’s also now been launched, with ten care homes involved in the first phase.

The aim is to help them avoid sending residents to hospital unless absolutely necessary.

Under the new service if they are concerned about a patient they can speak to one of our senior nurses or GPs at any time of day or night, seven-days-a-week.

Our clinicians can see the patient on an iPad and carry out a rapid assessment to determine what action is required.

Most care home residents are frail older people and evidence shows many are admitted to hospital when they become ill, even though it's often not the most appropriate place for them.

Being admitted can sometimes have a severe impact on people both physically and mentally and for some they don't regain the level of function they had prior to admission.

So it's vital that they are only admitted to hospital when there are no other alternatives.