A ground-breaking national partnership between Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and Public Health England (PHS) has today been launched.
“This high-profile partnership between the fire and rescue service and the NHS is a truly ground-breaking step that will benefit tens of thousands of our most vulnerable residents. With approximately 670,000 home safety checks carried out across the country every year, this is an incredible opportunity for us to reach those who are most in need of support, helping to avoid an issue from turning into a crisis."
Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford
NHS England, Age UK and Local Government Association also form part of the ‘Consensus Agreement’.
They have pledged to work together to tackle health and social problems and reduce winter pressures by making vital changes to the way they work.
It means that firefighters in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent will now carry out extended ‘Safe and Well’ checks.
The visits will be more in-depth and will focus specifically on vulnerable residents and those with complex needs.
As well as reducing the risk of a fire, they will aim to decrease health risks such as falls, loneliness and isolation which will, in turn, result in a reduction of people attending A&E, suffering broken hips and experiencing depression.
Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford said: “This high-profile partnership between the fire and rescue service and the NHS is a truly ground-breaking step that will benefit tens of thousands of our most vulnerable residents. With approximately 670,000 home safety checks carried out across the country every year, this is an incredible opportunity for us to reach those who are most in need of support, helping to avoid an issue from turning into a crisis.
“The fire and rescue service and health and social care services have a great affinity and in Staffordshire we are proud to be leading the way in continuing to develop this vital partnership. This exciting new venture is one of many that we are developing with our colleagues in the NHS, putting us at the forefront of innovation and integration. These initiatives are helping us to achieve our goals of improving the health, wellbeing and safety of our residents, bringing about the best possible outcomes for our communities. As future efficiencies are required and collaboration and integration options tabled, the Service will continue to explore them with enthusiasm and vigour.”
Dr Ann Hoskins, Deputy Director, Health and Wellbeing, Healthy People at Public Health England said: "Saving peoples' lives is the most important issue for firefighters. They have already had astonishing success in reducing deaths from fires and can now bring this experience to bear more widely. They are perfectly placed to spot the dangers facing the most vulnerable when making their hundreds of thousands visits each year to homes across the country. These pilots will enable us to test the impact of fire and rescue services intervening at scale to reduce winter related illnesses.”
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has a proven track record and rich history of collaborating with key partners and stakeholders from the public, private and voluntary sector.
It is currently running the SAfER – Sustained Action for Evidencing Reduction of Risk – pilot scheme in both the north and south of the county. Firefighters are taking a community based preventative approach, together with colleagues from North and South Staffs Age UK, based on evidence from a range of data sources in an attempt to reduce excess winter deaths, A&E admissions and demand on acute services.
In addition, the Service is one of only three fire and rescue services nationally to be selected to take part in a further trial with Public Health England that looks to make an immediate impact on NHS winter pressures. This initiative will run alongside the SAfER pilot.
The Service has also teamed up with Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust (SSOTP) following a review into a fatal fire.
The process found that by working together the two organisations could have a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable people, helping to prevent further incidents from occurring in the future.
Vulnerable people that members of staff from the NHS believe may be at risk of fire are now referred to the Service and a free Home Fire Risk Check is then carried out. The partnership also works in the opposite direction with fire service personnel referring cases to SSOTP.