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BBC Panorama: innovation at OUH

16/01/2023

Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) has featured in a BBC Panorama episode highlighting examples of innovation and new ways of working in the NHS.

Our Hospital at Home and Ambulatory Assessment Unit (AAU) teams, both based at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, are profiled in the episode titled 'The NHS Crisis: Can It Be Fixed?' and broadcast on BBC One on Monday 16 January.

The episode shows how, together, the two teams adopt a pioneering approach to reduce the number of patients admitted to hospital and support those who, if medically appropriate, can receive care in their home or care home.

Professor Dan Lasserson (Hospital at Home Physician), Dr Jordan Bowen (Consultant in Acute Medicine and Geriatrics), Yun Ody (Sister, Ambulatory Outreach Team), and their colleagues showcase how hospital-standard care can be provided to people in more familiar surroundings to enhance patient care and experience.

While Dr Bowen describes the important role of AAU and changing people's perspective of the need for hospital-based care, the BBC cameras follow Prof Lasserson and his team to see patients in the community to show how this approach can really make a difference to them.

Prof Lasserson was one of the first doctors in the country to provide hospital care at home using a range of point of care diagnostic technology, which allows clinicians to look after people with more complex acute illness who previously would be taken straight to hospital.

They have supported nearly 3,000 patients since January 2021 as the service has developed.

Prof Lasserson said: "We can assess, diagnose, and treat patients at home, if that is needed and is the choice of the patient. We are changing an approach and there is an energy and excitement about that.

"Members of the team are learning new technologies and giving diagnosis they wouldn't do if they stayed in their traditional roles. We are not replacing the hospital – if anything, it is the rebirth of the hospital and we are really proud of what we have achieved so far."

The mother of a 19-year-old patient featured in the programme describes the Hospital at Home team as a "blessing".

Dr Bowen runs AAU, which aims to get people who arrive as emergency patients home the same day. The team sees approximately 70 patients a day and has cared for around 70,000 people in the last five years.

Dr Bowen said: "What we try to do in AAU is intercept patients who would otherwise be arriving in the Emergency Department or being admitted into the hospital and instead be offering them an alternative to that. The aim is to provide the same quality of treatment in the home.

"The biggest thing is trying to explain to someone who is feeling unwell why it is important to be at home to recover, if possible. People get better quicker and return to doing things they value sooner by recovering safely in their own home – it is a massive change in our way of thinking."

Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Executive Officer at OUH, said: "We are always looking for new ways of working to improve the experience of our patients. We are really proud of what the AAU and Hospital at Home teams have achieved together so far.

"Providing hospital-standard care to people in their own homes is a great innovation, delivering on the compassionate excellence we seek to deliver for all our patients.

"Thank you to all our dedicated staff involved in providing this fantastic service on a daily basis."

'The NHS Crisis: Can It Be Fixed?' can be watched on BBC iPlayer. The episode is led by Alison Holt, the BBC's Social Affairs Editor.

Pictured: Prof Dan Lasserson (Hospital at Home Physician), Yun Ody (Sister, Ambulatory Outreach Team), and Dr Jordan Bowen (Consultant in Acute Medicine and Geriatrics)

Photography by Tom Pilston