Urgent community response teams to be rolled-out by NHS across all south east London

Expert urgent community response teams will begin to be rolled-out by the NHS in south east London, starting from April 2020, to help support older people to stay in their own homes and avoid hospital admissions under a new scheme outlined today.

As part of a £14 million national NHS programme, south east London has been selected as one of seven areas in the country – and the first in London – to deliver this new standard of care for elderly people across all six boroughs (Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark).

The teams will give those who need it fast access to a range of qualified professionals who can address both their health and social care needs, including physiotherapy and occupational therapy, medication prescribing and reviews and help with staying well-fed and hydrated.

Andrew Bland, Chief Officer of South East London ICS, said:

“We are delighted to have been selected to run this pilot. Although we have some schemes in place in all our boroughs already, being chosen as an accelerator site will allow our partners in south east London to support existing services better for the benefit of all our residents. 

“We serve a diverse and largely urban population in our part of London, with almost two million residents – 11% of whom are over the age of 65. And we expect this number to treble over the next decade.” 

 Sir David Sloman, Regional Director for the NHS in London, said:

“This is excellent news for older people and adults with complex health needs in south east London, who will have access to rapid support to help them stay out of hospital and remain independent at home.  

“People will have timely access to joined-up care specific to their needs from a range of health and care professionals, delivered through partnership between the NHS and local councils.  Not only is this better for them and their families, but it means that hospital beds are available faster when the sickest of patients need them.

“Right now, the new standards of care will be rolled out in south east London – but going forward, we envisage the whole of the capital benefitting as we work to make London the healthiest global city.”

 Expert teams will be on hand within two hours to help support older people to remain well at home and avoid hospital admissions.

The urgent care response programme, which represents the first standard of its type for community services in the country, seeks to:

  • Provide an assessment in a patient’s home if they are in a crisis, within two hours of referral by a GP or other health or social care worker.
  • Provide an intermediate care response to a patient within two days of referral (is offered for up to six weeks to support people be discharged from hospital, or to help avoid them needing to be admitted to hospital in the first place).
  • Improve care for people with complex needs in the community, including primary care.
  • Support the NHS’ Long Term Plan to support England’s ageing population and those with complex needs.


The pilots that have taken place in south east London include:

Bromley: For patients identified as frail. The outcome saw a 32 per cent reduction in attendance at A&E and 20 per cent reduction in emergency admissions to hospital.

Lambeth and Southwark: The @home service – supporting patients that are acutely unwell and requiring short-term treatments and interventions. Data reveals how patients who receive this data stay, on average, 5.7 days – compared with an average of 8.9 days for care homes patients in south east London.

Lewisham: The Community Acute Rapid Response (CARRS) – developed in partnership with Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and three GP practices – offers same-day emergency care for patients with long-term conditions and older people. In the pilot of 165 patients at immediate high risk, only 10 people were admitted into hospital and just one person attended A&E.

Bexley Care: Has a fully integrated health and social care single point of contact for adults. Screening is undertaken by call handlers for a crisis response and referral on the health and social care services and the escalation of patient safety issues. The local authority is in public consultation to delegate Care Act assessments to partner organisations, including the voluntary sector.

Oxleas services in Greenwich have a fully integrated health and social care crisis response service via single point of contact for adults. Age UK provide a ‘Take Home and Settle Service’ from the acute hospital and community beds. This includes signposting and next day contract to ensure all is well.

A copy of the NHS England press release can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/news/