BBC News article: Why firefighters could help reduce the burden on the NHS

BBC News has today (Thursday 10th September) run a story titled ‘Why fighters could save the NHS

There is a great deal of work currently taking place between CFOA, the NHS, NHS England, CCGS and individual Fire and Rescue Services to work more closely together, share more information and ultimately, reduce the number of hospital admissions.

The article coincides with the launch of a new book written by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who highlights the work of the fire service and its role in the health arena.

This new book and news item is incredibly timely, as a number of projects are currently underway as to how the Fire and Rescue Service can work alongside its NHS colleagues and have a symbiotic relationship.

According to the BBC article: “Sir Michael describes how fire services have effectively become health ambassadors, using their unique access into people’s homes to help change their lives.” He also describes the fire service as: “A magnificent example of what can be achieved” and urges the rest of society to think about what they can do.

Sir Michael Marmot is a leading health inequalities expert who has worked in an advisory role to the Government and has been championed by the Local Government Association.

The Independent on Sunday ran an article last weekend about a pilot project in the East Midlands between the two blue light services and how fire services were helping to support ambulance crews at a time of increased demand.

Home safety checks have now been expanded beyond fitting and checking smoke alarms. Firefighters can fit safety equipment such as rails in bathrooms while raising any health issues they see during visits. They will then put people in touch with the relevant organisations which could help them. This can result in a better quality of life for the individual and reduce the likelihood of hospital visits and stays. The latter saves the NHS money while having a positive outcome for people.

Health is a key priority for CFOA as outlined in its new strategy: Making the Difference Needed.Outlined within the document is:

  • Fire and rescue services have the skills, capability and positive relationship with the public to tackle a much wider range of societal risks and build healthier, safer and more resilient communities. There are already many examples of fire and rescue services delivering greater public and social value in hard to reach communities.
  • Through the medium of targeted Home Safety Checks, fire and rescue services visit around 670,000 vulnerable households every year, representing a unique opportunity for engagement; Six hundred and seventy thousand opportunities to make a positive difference and improve life chances.
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