Ground-breaking work to reduce waiting times and improve care for patients with stomach and digestive problems in north east London has won a national award.
The initiative involving NHS North East London (NHS NEL), Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) and healthcare provider Medefer was named among the winners at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Partnership Awards 2023.
Established in 2016, the partnership was set up to support the gastroenterology service at BHRUT which was then facing significant waiting times and referral backlogs in its outpatient department amid ongoing challenges recruiting consultants.
With Medefer’s input, a first-of-its-kind virtual outpatients service was set up to help local GPs manage gastroenterology referrals and ease pressure on the trust.
More than three-quarters of GP referrals (76%) are now managed by Medefer remotely and discharged, and only 25% of patients need to attend an in-person hospital appointment. This has freed up capacity at BHRUT, enabling consultants to focus on patients with more serious conditions, and its endoscopy service is now rated among the top three nationally[i].
These achievements were recognised at the awards ceremony in London yesterday (23 March) where the initiative won the ‘Best Provider Partnership with the NHS‘ accolade.
The HSJ Partnership Awards judges said:
“This ambitious partnership was the first time a truly virtual outpatients service was imagined and implemented to deliver a sustainable and flexible solution to reduce waiting times, support local hospital workforce capacity and support general practice in managing gastroenterology referrals.”
Tracy Rubery Director of Partnership, Impact and Delivery at NHS NEL, said:
“We’re delighted to win this award. It’s welcome recognition of the many hours’ hard work partners put into developing and implementing the virtual outpatients service and the positive impact it’s had for our patients, as well as supporting clinicians.
“As the judges acknowledged, the service is making a significant contribution by allowing many patients to be safely managed without the need to attend an outpatient appointment – saving them a hospital visit and helping cut waiting times for those who need to see a consultant. Our aim is to build on this work and deliver further improvements in care.”
Sas Banerjee, endoscopy and joint gastroenterology lead at BHRUT, said:
“This reward is great recognition of what working closely with our partners can achieve for our patients.
“Our relationship with Medefer helps to reduce our waiting lists by ensuring the referrals which reach our specialists are the patients which really need to be seen in our hospitals.”
Dr Bahman Nedjat-Shokouhi, CEO and Founder of Medefer said:
“We are grateful for this award. This has been a long term and ambitious partnership between Medefer, BHRUT and NEL that started in 2016. It was the first time a truly virtual outpatients service was imagined and implemented at scale.
“The partnership of the gastroenterology teams between Medefer and BHRUT has resulted in outstanding care for the patients. Medefer’s team have reduced the outpatient demand by almost 80%, enabling BHRUT’s team to deliver the best performance for outpatient in London and develop one of the top JAG endoscopy units in the country. We look forward to developing our partnership further to deliver even better care for the patients.”
[i] The endoscopy service at Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust now rates among the top three in the country according to the Royal College of Physicians’ Joint Advisory Group (JAG) on GI Endoscopy.