Gwent homecare pioneer to step down after 30 years

WHEN Professor Bim Bhowmick, a pioneer in treatment of the elderly for more than 30 years, retires next week, he will do so with NHS Wales’ first ever lifetime achievement award newly installed on his mantelpiece.

It recognises his contribution to geriatric healthcare in Wales, his recent work in Torfaen a typical example and one that should prove a lasting legacy beyond the county borough.

His Torfaen ACAT (Advanced Clinical Assessment Team), which provides what he calls “a virtual hospital ward in the patient’s home” last year prevented 1,100 hospital admissions among the county borough’s elderly, saving the NHS £2 million and easing pressure on social services budgets.

“The NHS is first class at treating emergencies. Otherwise, people wait – to see their GP, a consultant, for tests, results, physio, operations. But the elderly cannot wait,” said Professor Bhowmick, a consultant, and clinical director of intermediate care services in Torfaen.

“There was scepticism, but we have created the evidence that this sort of intervention, works.

One of Professor Bhowmick’s recent patients, 80-year-old Glyn Davies, of Charles Street, Griffithstown, received ACAT help after he had what he called “a funny turn” in his garden.

“My GP called the team in, the nurses came the same day, then the prof,” he said.

“The suspicion was that I’d had a mini-stroke, but that was quickly ruled out. I had an x-ray at County Hospital, a scan at Nevill Hall and the results straight away. It was great.”

Without ACAT, Mr Davies might have had to spend several days in hospital.

“It is not only pioneering. It addresses radically the problem of unnecessary, inappropriate admission to hospital and thereby, people getting stuck in the system,” said Professor Bhowmick.