Retired firefighter Stuart Bradley once played professional rugby with Halifax, Dewsbury and Batley, but now 64 and living in Freckleton, he struggles with multiple health complaints and finds it difficult just to get about his own flat.

Stuart, who lives with his partner of three years Beryl Kay, suffers from heart problems, diabetes, kidney failure and mobility issues due to severe arthritis and gout, and was having to pay regular visits to his GP.

But thanks to the new Extensive Care Service in Lytham, Stuart is now turning his life around with the help of a dedicated team of health professionals and social and wellbeing officers.

“When things went wrong I was taken to hospital,” said Stuart, who was forced to relocate from his caravan to sheltered accommodation following a fall last Christmas. “I was going to see the doctor on a regular basis.”

Stuart, of Naze Lane, was referred on to the new Extensive Care Service – which has been launched by NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) initially in Lytham but with plans for roll-out right across the Fylde Coast – by his GP.

He said: “I went to see my GP when I came out of hospital after suffering kidney failure. She described it and explained how it was working.

“She said one of the main objectives was to keep people out of hospital as much as they could and that was exactly what I wanted as I hate being in hospital. She asked if I would like to go on it and I accepted it there and then.”

Extensive Care provides patients with multiple long-term conditions with a single point of contact for all their health needs. Based within Lytham Primary Care Centre, the Extensive Care Service consists of doctors, nurses, advanced practitioners and care co-ordinators all under one roof.

Patients also have their own wellbeing support worker, who they meet on a regular basis, developing a long-term plan for their health.

Having been referred and undergone an initial assessment of his conditions, Stuart was assigned to wellbeing support worker Lee Jones, who meets regularly with the couple to discuss Stuart’s needs and concerns.

Lee, who looks after 17 patients across the Lytham, St Annes, Ansdell and Freckleton area, has provided Stuart with information sheets explaining what he should do in any of the health emergencies that could occur and also helped him devise a set of goals to work towards.

Stuart, who used to spend every day at the gym keeping fit, said: “The goals are just simple things, but things that have become incredibly different in recent years. They are things like doing more DIY, cooking and doing more exercise.

“I had wanted to paint the hallway but was unable to as my legs start to hurt and I have to sit down every few minutes, so Lee got me a perching stool which has meant I have been able to make a start on the job. The stool has also helped me do some cooking.

“I also wanted to start swimming so I could do a bit of exercise, but I can’t manage the ladders to get into and out of the pool, but Lee found me a swimming pool with a walk-in area so I was able to get into that.

“These are little things to many people but it makes a massive difference to me and makes me feel a lot happier while also helping get me up on my feet.”

Stuart said he would recommend the Extensive Care Service to anyone who met the referral criteria as it was helping to change his life for the better.

He said: “I see Lee every week which is really good as we have built up a rapport and we get to talk about things that could help me to feel better.

“And the speed of the service is incredible. I know if anything goes wrong I can ring a number, 24/7, and someone will help me.

“I went in for an appointment and while I was there I asked about a rash that had developed on my arm and someone came and saw me there and then. There was no waiting around or needing to book a new appointment.

“I am not waiting a month to see a doctor any more. It is instant and for me, and Beryl, that provides huge security as I know in that place there is someone there if I need them.”

Lee, who has a background in sports coaching and patient care, said he was seeing a huge change in the wellbeing of the patients he supported.

He said: “This service is fantastic as, with myself and the other wellbeing support workers, we are able to get right to the very root of the problem and get it sorted.

“In a 10-minute appointment with a doctor, all they can do is diagnose a health complaint and arrange treatment, but through developing a relationship with Stuart I have been able to look at more preventative measures so, in the main, he is able to look after his conditions and avoid the need for emergency treatment.”