People living in Bath and North East Somerset who are unwell and cannot get to their GP surgery to be seen, can now call the practice first thing in the morning to request an early home visit.

The Early Home Visiting Service has been set up so that patients who might need to go to hospital for a check can do so and return home again on the same day. Historically, home visits are done during late morning, which means patients may not arrive into hospital until the middle of the day, and can end up staying overnight unnecessarily.

Dr Ian Orpen, Clinical Chair of Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It takes time to make a proper assessment of a patient’s condition, both by primary care professionals and by the day-patient team at the hospital.

“If we start this process at the very beginning of the day, there is a much higher chance that if a patient does need to go to hospital, they will be seen and be able to go straight home again, where they will recover faster and feel more comfortable.”

The service pilot is a result of collaboration between BaNES CCG, GP practices, B&NES Enhanced Medical Services (BEMS) and the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

The patient, or someone close to them, can call the GP practice to request an urgent home visit, and surgery staff will assess whether their clinical need is appropriate for the service. Depending on where a person lives in B&NES, they might be visited by a GP, a Nurse Practitioner or by a Specialist Paramedic.

Dr Andrew Smith, Chief Executive of BEMS, said: “Incorporating paramedics and nurses into the wider team means patients can be seen more quickly, and a new system we are using means we can speed up patient care further, with patient information being fed back to their GP immediately.”

The initiative is designed to help balance some of the pressures that GPs and the wider health sector are facing as a result of stretched NHS budgets and an increased demand for services. The Early Home Visiting Service will free up time for those GPs, who remain based in the surgery seeing patients who can get there themselves, allowing time for longer appointments.