Meet the team tasked with averting another winter crisis in Oxfordshire

New winter director for Oxfordshire, Tehmeena Ajmal. Photo: Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
New winter director for Oxfordshire, Tehmeena Ajmal. Photo: Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

A new team has begun its task to reduce winter pressures on the NHS by bringing the various health and social care systems in Oxfordshire together.

Last year the NHS trust which runs the Horton General Hospital was on the highest level of pressure three times because of the stress its A&E departments were under, which led to hundreds of cancelled operations.

In a bid to avert another crisis, health and social care bosses have appointed a 'winter director' to run a team of people to improve the quality and performance of urgent care in the county.

Tehmeena Ajmal, whose appointment is among the first of her kind in the UK, said: "Our priority is to ensure patients get the best care especially during winter and this new approach which brings together clinical and community teams should make a difference."

Ms Ajmal was appointed by the chief executives of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford Health - she will be based at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

A joint statement from health bosses said: "A valuable lesson learned from last year is that we need to work more closely together to provide the best possible care and support for the local communities which rely on all our services during the challenging winter months."

Usually individual teams have their own plans for how to deal with the seasonal pressures but now there is one team tackling winter pressures to make sure patients are treated in the right place.

The team is also working collaboratively with agencies like AgeUK to support social and community care, with the hope that the needs of discharged patients can be met appropriately.

Ms Ajmal said the fresh approach relies on people having a 'winter plan' to protect themselves against illnesses by knowing how to stay well, what to do if they feel sick and how to look after the elderly.

People most at risk are being urged to have a free flu vaccination from their GP - including people aged over 65, with long-term conditions and pregnant women.

Children aged two and three years can have a free nasal spray vaccine from their GP and school age children will receive the vaccination at school."