A HAMPSHIRE care provider claims to have saved Winchester's hospital around £624,000 over the past 10 months, by helping people in their homes.

Multi award-winning firm Bluebird Care says since it started last year, it has managed to keep nearly 350 people from being admitted to the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

The average cost to the NHS for a patient in £1,800.

GPs, district nurses and community care teams refer their patients with acute illnesses to the Bluebird Care's joint emergency team (JET), who then assess the patient within a few hours and immediately put in place emergency care in their own home, helping to ease the number of beds taken up in hospitals by elderly patients.

Norman Murphy, owner and managing director, said: “We really commend the NHS West Hampshire CCG and Hampshire County Council for looking at new and innovative ways to relieve the intense pressure on the NHS. Providing care in people’s own homes has not only benefitted local hospitals, it has also been hugely beneficial to patients.

“The large increase of hospital admissions during the winter months has meant it’s been crucial to keep as many free beds as possible and Bluebird Care take great pride in helping the NHS in such a valuable way.”

The firm currently works with seven GP surgeries across Winchester and Eastleigh.

Philip Heiden, director at Mid-Hampshire Healthcare which represents GPs in the county, said: “It has long been known that with correct community social care support, thousands of people that are unnecessarily admitted to hospital can be cared for just as well, if not better, in their own homes and Bluebird Care were the perfect partner to deliver this.”

Responding to the claim Julie Maskery, chief operating officer at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: "Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a very enthusiastic supporter of the Bluebird JET scheme and fully recognises the success of keeping a large number of potential patients safe in their homes.

"Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and West Hampshire CCG has supported further work with Bluebird over the winter. However, despite this very successful intervention, attendances to all our emergency departments have increased by 2.9% in the current financial year compared with last year."