New funding for alternatives to hospital treatment is announced under the NHS Long Term Plan. This initiative aims to provide NHS patients with more choice for their treatment and to reduce the number of unnecessary hospital stays which can reduce the pressure on hospital beds.
Theresa May announced the plans and the funding during a visit to a health centre in North London. She pledges to reduce the number of hospital admissions as well as ensuring patients can return home soon. The plans will see an increase in community-based rapid-response teams that can ensure patient receive care in their home or local community rather than extended hospital visits.
The rapid response teams will be available 24/7 and will comprise of a range of medical professionals, including nurses, doctors and physiotherapists. This means they can provide emergency care as well as support that can help to reduce or eliminate hospital visits. The focus of the plan is to help people to stay healthy so that they can live independently for longer.
As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the Prime Minister has pledged an investment of £3.5 billion a year for community healthcare in addition to the NHS budget already allocated to these services. The substantial funding is one of the most significant cash boosts for the NHS which is part of the latest Budget.
The focus on hospital alternatives comes after research suggesting that almost a third of people stay in hospital longer than necessary due to the lack of support in their community. Furthermore, a third of admissions to hospitals from care homes are avoidable. As a result, this adds pressure on the health service as well as negatively impacting a patient’s health.
Evidence suggests that for older people, a ten-day stay is equivalent to ten years of muscle ageing. Reducing hospital stays can then help to promote independence and minimise the risk to patient’s health.
Announcing the plans, Theresa May said; “I’m announcing a major boost in funding for community healthcare, which will give more patients a genuine and high-quality alternative to hospital. The new approach we’re setting out today will mean more people can leave hospital quicker, or avoid being admitted in the first place – which is better for patients and better for the health service.”
Another measure included in the plans include assigning healthcare professionals to care homes so residents can enjoy tailored treatment and support. This means that care homes can offer emergency, out of hour care through a team of local doctors and pharmacists.
The Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, adds: “Everyone can see that to future-proof the NHS we need to radically redesign how primary and community health services work together. For community health services this means quick response to help people who don’t need to be in hospital, as well as dissolving the 70-year-old boundary between GP practices and community nursing.”