Funding for primary and community healthcare

November 22, 2018

Theresa May has announced additional funding for primary and community healthcare, saying that more people will be looked after at home and in their communities. The aim is to avoid people going into or staying in hospital unnecessarily.

The Prime Minister pledged to cut needless hospital admissions and help inpatients return home sooner – through community-based rapid response teams and dedicated support for care home residents.

The 24/7 rapid response teams are made up of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists and will provide urgent care and support in the community as an alternative to hospital. This includes emergency treatment as well as support to help patients recover closer to home, which will help people stay healthy and independent for longer.

The new investment – worth £3.5bn a year in real terms by 2023/4 – builds on the existing NHS budget for these services.

The announcement of additional funding for primary and community healthcare forms a key part of the Long Term Plan for the NHS – which is the biggest ever cash boost for the health service.

Prime Minister Theresa May said, 'Too often people end up in hospital not because it’s the best place to meet their needs but because the support that would allow them to be treated or recover in their own home just isn’t available.

'Many of us might assume that hospital is the safest place to be – but in reality many patients would be much better off being cared for in the community.

'And the longer a patient stays in hospital the more it costs the NHS and the more pressure is put on its hardworking staff. This needs to change.

'That’s why 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...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.'

As many as a third of people in hospital stay longer than they need to, often because they can’t get treatment close to home, and analysis suggests that over a third of hospital admissions from care homes are avoidable.

As well as this funding for primary and community healthcare, the Prime Minister has also announced the national roll-out of a successful pilot that sees healthcare professionals assigned to care homes where they get to know individual residents’ needs and can provide tailored treatment and support. The teams include pharmacists and GPs who can also offer emergency care out of hours.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said, 'GPs are the bedrock of the NHS. To make the NHS sustainable for the long term we need more prevention as well as cure...too often our hospitals become the only place to turn for older people, often to the detriment of their health – but no longer.

'...This additional funding of £3.5bn a year by 2023/24 demonstrates our commitment to primary and community healthcare, capable of relieving the burden on our hospitals over the coming years and revolutionising the way high-quality care is delivered for our most vulnerable patients.'

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said, '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.

'But to will the end is to will the means. That’s why – as part of the NHS Long Term Plan – for the first time we’re going to guarantee that these services get a growing share of the growing NHS budget.'

Responding to the announcement of funding for primary and community healthcare, Vice President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Julie Ogley said, 'We are pleased that the Prime Minister has announced more funding for primary and community healthcare which Directors of Adult Social Services have long advised. This will make a very significant difference for older and disabled people and their families.

'We have always maintained that supporting people’s wellbeing at home needs to be the main focus of public services.

'The best way to reduce pressure on hospitals is to provide care which means people don’t end up sick or injured and needing hospital in the first place.

'We look forward to spending plans being drawn up with local adult social care systems, and with local Health and Wellbeing Boards.

'The Government also needs to bring forward a long-term funding solution for adult social care in its Spending Review and forthcoming green paper, and in the meantime to supply interim funding to help the sector cope with its current pressures. Resolving adult social care funding would significantly help planning around community health services, and enable Health and Wellbeing Boards and local systems to deliver the most impact.'

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