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Firefighters sign up to reduce winter pressures

Firefighters sign up to reduce winter pressures

The fire and rescue service has signed a consensus to help the vulnerable and elderly and reduce winter pressures on the NHS, working with NHS England, Public Health England, Age UK and the Local Government Association, it was announced today
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The fire and rescue service has signed a consensus to help the vulnerable and elderly and reduce winter pressures on the NHS, working with NHS England, Public Health England, Age UK and the Local Government Association, it was announced today at a World Health Organization conference.

The aim is to extend the 670,000 home safety checks already carried out annually into a ‘Safe and Well’ visits, from reducing the risks of a fire, to also reducing health risks such as falls, loneliness and isolation, in order to decrease visits to A&E, and the number of people suffering from broken hips and depression.

The fire fighters work may include: quickly installing a handrail; noticing and stopping fall hazards such as loose rugs; spotting hazards such as piled up papers; and signposting people to local groups for help, support or company.

In response to the consensus Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Fire service home visits already prevent fires, and now will help prevent falls, accidents and trips to casualty. It's great to see two of the most trusted public services getting creative about jointly supporting vulnerable people to stay healthy and independent."

Some areas are already carrying out this work, for example in Manchester the fire fighters work with community response intervention teams who provide a rapid response to avoid people going into hospital and to facilitate early discharge. However, the consensus is expected to increase the roll out across England.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, added: "Saving peoples' lives is the most important thing for firefighters. They have already had astonishing success in reducing deaths from fires and can now bring this experience to bear more widely."

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