Wessex Healthier Together
The Healthier Together initiative aims to deliver high quality care and consistent advice in a simple and easy to use format to parents.
It’s a collaboration between hospital consultants, GPs, health visitors, midwives, public health experts, pharmacists, community nurses and parents.
There’s a website and an app, containing detailed information on symptoms and appropriate nearby services. The website contains printable information leaflets for parents which outline the stages of illness for a range of conditions – from abdominal pain and asthma, to head injuries and fevers – and what action should be taken before it is necessary to seek further help.
“When parents and carers of young children are worried about a child’s health, they often find the healthcare system deeply confusing and difficult to navigate,” says Dr Sanjay Patel, Project Lead and Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Southampton Children’s Hospital.
“This often leaves them having to turn directly to their GP or A&E department when there may be alternatives that are better for their child and under pressure healthcare services.”
A recent survey found that 77% of local GPs believed more than half of the children they saw with common childhood illnesses could have been safely looked after at home without any tests or prescriptions.
For healthcare professionals, there are clinical guides as to what assessments should be carried out, what medications are required to treat various conditions and when it is appropriate to refer onto other services.
“As healthcare professionals, we need to remove the barriers between general practice and hospital services and work together to ensure parents and families have easy access to the right information at the right time,” explained Dr Patel.
“Through the development of this useful online tool, we can advise parents as one group on what symptoms to look for, what action they should be taking, and which organisations they should be looking to head to next."
And now the initiative has become much more than an app and a website. "It is the catalyst for integrating care and forging relationships between providers across the urgent care pathway," says Dr Patel.
"It has proven instrumental in driving initiative within the Children's STP, including the connective care children's hubs and the integrated NHS 111 project. In addition, education based on the Healthier Together clinical pathways has been delivered to health visitors, pharmacists, GPs, emergency department staff and paediatric trainees."