Care plan ‘to ease hospital pressure’ in England

  • Posted

Posted 03/11/2014

Julie Crossley 1397333021_JulieCrossleyCPX.jpg

Vulnerable patients in England will get better support in the community as part of plans to ease pressure on hospitals, ministers say. Joint teams of social care workers and NHS staff such as nurses and physiotherapists will become available seven days a week under the changes being unveiled.

The move is part of the government’s Better Care Fund to join up the NHS and council-run social care systems. It comes as a new analysis showed hospitals were under growing pressure. The King’s Fund think tank’s quarterly monitoring report, covering the period from June to September, found that 5% of patients were spending four or more hours in A&E – the highest level at this time of year for a decade.

The review also highlighted that waiting times for routine operations, such as hip and knee replacements, had reached their highest levels since 2008 with 12.1% of patients waiting more than 18 weeks. Meanwhile, the latest figures for the 62-day target for cancer treatment also show that it is being missed, although those figures only cover the period to June. Both of these factors will cause concern but where will the money come from?

The government is advising that £5.3bn has been set aside for the Better Care Fund.

King’s Fund director of policy Richard Murray said the performance was a “significant cause for concern” and pointed to a difficult winter ahead. But ministers are predicting pressures will ease from April when the Better Care Fund comes into place. The pot, mainly sourced from NHS money, has been created to close the divide between the health and care systems, which elderly patients are particularly affected by.

It has been up to local areas to draw up their own plans, but they all involve some kind of collaboration between health and care staff and creating a single assessment system.

Julie Crossley, a medical injury lawyer at Ashtons Legal, comments: “This joined up thinking and having a more holistic approach should help future treatment and rehabilitation for all age groups but particularly the elderly who often spend a lot of unnecessary time in hospital. It may also lead to better communication between departments and medics which is often central to litigation claims.”


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