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Innovative Scheme Helps More People Receive Treatment Closer to Home

dextrose hanging on stainless steel IV stand

People in Highland Perthshire could be among those to benefit from a new service which has already saved 45,000 hospital bed days this year and will be rolled out even further this month.

The Out-patient Antimicrobial Therapy (OPAT) service allows people to be treated at home or in out-patient settings, reducing the need for hospital admissions or long stays.

Speaking on the roll-out Health Secretary Mr Yousaf said: “I am pleased to see the roll-out of the Out-patient Antimicrobial Therapy service. We know that our accident and emergency departments continue to be under significant pressure, and that is why we are working at pace to deliver this scheme, and others like it, to provide more care in the community while reducing pressure on hospitals.

“We know there is a real benefit to treating people at home where possible. We are determined to build on this success and want to see this approach adopted across as many health boards as possible.”

NHS Tayside is among one of the nine health boards currently using the OPAT services, where patients are able to receive intravenous antimicrobial therapy and other complex antibiotic treatments in an out-patient clinic at a time convenient, with some areas even offering treatment at home.  

The service which is part of the ‘Right Care in the Right Place’ initiative, is just one of many innovative programmes which are being used by health boards across Scotland to help reduce pressures on the rest of the system.

Figures published by the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group show that between 17 January 2022 and 21 August 2022 on average 250 people per week have been treated by the OPAT service and more than 45,000 hospital admission bed days have been avoided in that period. OPAT services are supported by £50 million of Scottish Government funding through the Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative.

 Dr Andrew Seaton, Chair of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group and Consultant in Infectious Diseases, said:

“Hospitals are under significant pressure as we try to recover from the effects of the COVID pandemic and there is a real need for initiatives to support recovery and promote different ways of caring for our patients traditionally managed in hospitals.

“OPAT is an excellent example of how nurses, pharmacists and doctors can work together to provide high quality patient centred care without the need for a hospital bed. The focus now on further developing virtual capacity and new ways of working with support across Scotland for initiatives like ours is very welcome”.

It is anticipated over the next six months as OPAT teams grow across Scotland and the scheme is rolled out further, that there will be an increase in OPAT clinical activity.

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