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Vulnerable young patients given extra help

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Vulnerable young people admitted as emergency patients to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham are being offered vital support as part of a pilot project.

The Youth Connector project aims to help 16 to 25-year-olds arriving at QEHB Emergency Department or Clinical Decision Unit with any additional medical or social needs they may have that could have an impact on their health.

Areas of support are likely to range from welfare benefits, housing related issues, and debt advice to accessing specialist counselling services and sexual health guidance.

UHB has formed a partnership with Bromford, a social enterprise that provides housing and support services, as well as Birmingham City Council.

The aim of the six-month pilot project is to support any patients aged 16 to 25 that may have additional needs which are resulting in frequent admissions to the Emergency Department or CDU.

Bromford support workers Becky Elliott (pictured) and Melissa Tomlinson have been placed within the ED and CDU areas of the hospital to offer their services to any vulnerable young people who have been admitted.

They will use their expertise in areas such as housing, sexual health, bereavement and mental health to work with any young patients who require support, including anyone affected by violence or crime.

They have a directory of services where young people can be signposted to get the support they need. They also work closely with colleagues in mental health services (RAID, Rapid Access, Interface and Discharge).

Becky and Melissa will be able to discuss any non-medical issues and concerns which the young patients may have, as well as provide accessible information and advice about any housing related and welfare issues.

They will also be able to connect the young patients to care organisations and practitioners that may be able to support them, such as counsellors and drug and alcohol services, and also put them in touch with a range of community assets including self-help groups.

Becky, who has worked at Bromford for more than three years, said: “We are here to ease the pressure of the medical staff and hopefully reduce the number of young people coming in through the Emergency Department.

“I was placed here with the support of the hospital because you have young people coming in with medical problems which could be due to social issues that we can hopefully sort, such as asthma caused by mould in their home.

“I have already seen a couple of young patients who had overdosed due to an issue with their family, so we are now working with them on sorting accommodation.”

UHB staff looking after young patients aged 16-25 in ED and CDU can contact Becky and Melissa directly by calling 07931 500 932 or by emailing either or

Elizabeth Rankin, consultant rheumatologist at the Trust with a special interest in young adult care, said: “We all know that adolescence and early adulthood can be a difficult time, and even more so for young people with a long term condition such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy, for example.

“There has been recent national publicity about the high prevalence of unemployment and self harm among young people. The latter is reflected in admissions to our own Emergency Department and Clinical Decision Unit.

“If we can help young people with complex needs in the wider aspects of their lives, we may reduce the risk of further episodes of self harm and further admissions to hospital.”