Fire Service project is making every contact count

In the latest of our series of blogs about the new working partnership between the NHS and the Fire Service, the Chief Officer of NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group explains how it is working on Humberside:

It’s great to see the integration of fire and health is creating a bit of a buzz around the NHS at the moment.

Here in Hull we already know the benefits of having strong links with our fire colleagues.

Over the last 18 months Humberside Fire and Rescue has been a key partner in the CCG-led Hull 2020 transformation programme and this has led to a very effective and rewarding working relationship.

Through its fire prevention work the Fire Service has seen the number of fires reduce by 56% in the last 10 years – so it was natural for them to be looking to expand the role they have in the community.

Fire and health are both trusted brands and there are a lot of organisational synergies between us. We saw an opportunity to work with them as strategic partners to transform the way we deliver health and wellbeing services across the city.

As a former ambulance service general manager myself, I’m no stranger to blue light services. However, I wanted to see how fire officers work together as an operational crew first hand, and how this teamwork might work with the NHS. I felt the best way to do this was to spend a full night shift with Green Watch in the middle of January this year.

It was fantastic! As well as training with the crew and going on two call-outs I was able to talk to them about what they thought about linking with health care. I think some of them thought that working with the NHS might mean taking on a nursing role, when actually what we had in mind was more dynamic in terms of a rapid response service for falls.

The Hull first Falls Response project grew out of the Hull 2020 frailty and isolation work stream which the fire service leads on. You might imagine trained firefighters would be hesitant about taking on a new role, but they have seen a number of volunteers coming forward for the new Falls Response Service – which is brilliant. It says so much about the workforce and how they can adapt to change.

The firefighters in the Falls Response Team have told us they are keen to get in on the beginning of new projects so that they can have a bit of influence over shaping the service – working closely with community health teams, the ambulance service and social care.

So, how is it going?

It’s early days, but the Falls Response Team is already seeing falls work as a specialist service that they are ideally suited for. It’s a natural progression from the home fire risk assessments and community safety work they do day in, day out.

We know too many people spend time in a hospital bed they don’t need to be in. This is a failure of the system to support someone who is safe and well enough to live independently in their own home. This is backed up by the fact that around 80 percent of the people the Falls Rapid Response Team have responded to did not need to be admitted. One gentleman who had fallen was using the furniture to help him get around his flat and, once he was safely picked up, the Team were able to fit some handrails and put in a call quickly to services that could provide walking aids. Sometime it is as simple as that!

Where do we go from here?

We’re building an integrated care centre in the east of the city and exploring plans for a small fire station to be located on the site – with the possibility of the Fire Service becoming part of the team commissioned to provide out-of-hospital care.

Should the fire service focus solely on supporting older people?

Well, no, Hull is the third most deprived city in the UK and our priority is a brighter future for the next generation. We think our Fire Service partners can support vulnerable people of all ages – starting with the ‘FireFit’ sessions they deliver free to disadvantaged young people in station gyms.

And – making the most of the high visibility of fire appliances – the Fire Service has been turning heads with a bright blue engine specially wrapped to promote the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer to men over the age of 50.

I talk a lot about getting the best possible outcomes for the ‘Hull pound’ – which means making the most out of the people, public services and resources we already have in the city.

Integrating our work with the Fire Service has really given us an opportunity to see and do things differently – ensuring that we make ‘every contact count’ for people in Hull.

If you are interested in learning more about how NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group and Humberside Fire and Rescue Service have been working together in Hull get in touch via #Hull2020 or @NHSHullCCG.


Emma Latimer

Emma Latimer is the Chief Officer for NHS Hull CCG.

She has worked in the NHS for 25 years in a range of settings which include the ambulance service, hospitals and health authority, but predominantly as a commissioner.

Emma has led NHS Hull CCG for three years and is passionate about improving local health outcomes by working with patients and other partners to create a healthier Hull.

She is Programme Sponsor for the Hull 2020 programme – a partnership of nine organisations committed to transforming the way public services work to enable the people of Hull to improve their own health and wellbeing and to achieve their aspirations for the future.