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Norfolk and Waveney healthcare organisations shortlisted for prestigious awards

A first-of-its-kind project which provided thousands of vulnerable patients with extra support to help them keep well during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has been shortlisted for two prestigious national awards.

COVID Protect has been named as a finalist in the “Connecting Services and Information” and “Primary Care Innovation of the Year” categories of the Health Service Journal Awards 2021.

The pioneering scheme began at the start of the pandemic and was coordinated by NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It saw health teams regularly monitor the health of patients who were more likely to become unwell from COVID-19 – including those who were shielding – as well as arranging extra support where necessary.

Patients were asked to check in every day and let teams know about their health and whether they needed any extra help. If any problems were identified or the teams thought they might need assistance, volunteers would then contact them to make the necessary arrangements.

Over the course of the programme a quarter of a million patient interactions were recorded, which included checking on welfare and raising alerts for additional support such as food and medication collection.

Cath Byford, Chief Nurse with the CCG, said: “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for these high-profile national awards in recognition of the success of our COVID Protect project.

“The initiative was the first of its kind in the country and saw volunteers from seven different organisations work together to contact thousands of vulnerable people and put in place any extra support they needed to help them stay safe and well. This was a great example of partnership working and our thanks go to everyone who made it such a success.”

In addition, North Norfolk Primary Care has also been shortlisted in the “Primary Care Innovation of the Year” category for using technology to transform dermatology services and reduce waiting times from 50 weeks to just 48 hours.

The new pathway has seen over 1,000 patients benefit from significantly reduced waiting time through the use of a communication platform that links primary care doctors and nurses with specialist dermatology consultants so that the patient receives a diagnosis within 48 hours of attending an appointment with their GP.

James Leeming, Chief Executive at NNPC, said: “We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for the HSJ Primary Care Innovation of the Year award for our dermatology project. We worked in partnership with colleagues from Cinapsis and Xyla Elective Care, and this recognition really does reflect the collaborative efforts and dedication of the team.

“This hard work has resulted in the successful delivery our project and demonstrable positive impact for both patient and staff, with diagnosis waiting times reducing from 50 weeks to within 48 hours. This announcement feels like a wonderful achievement for everyone involved and the nomination has been a tremendous boost to staff at NNPC and our partners at Cinapsis and Xyla Elective Care.”

Winners of the HSJ Awards will be announced on 18 November.

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