NHS Long Term Plan – An Alternative to Hospitals

Hospital Admissions – are they necessary?

The NHS has reported that presently, around 2500 hospital beds are unnecessarily occupied by patients who are well and fit enough to be discharged but choose to stay due to the unavailability or delay of social care and support in their homes or communities. Going to the hospital is usually the only option for some.

A New Approach

My name is Sabrina and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics. On the 21st of November, Theresa May made a public announcement explaining that more NHS patients will be cared for and supported in their own homes and local communities. Subsequently, this will lessen unnecessary hospital stays and admissions and allow people to receive treatment specific to them, closer to home.

Budget Boost

In addition to the existing budget for primary and community healthcare, the prime minister has set out a major investment boost in these services; worth £3.5 billion a year in real terms by 2023/4, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. This will go towards building community-based rapid response teams; consisting of doctors, nurses and physiotherapist who will be able to give urgent care and support to patients as well as emergency treatment, preventing the need to go to hospital.

The NHS Long Term Plan 

The NHS Long Term Plan will also help to provide more dedicated support to older people in care homes, as most of the time hospital admissions from care homes are avoidable. For some, especially older people, needlessly staying in a hospital bed for extended periods of time could be detrimental to their health. The longer they stay in bed, the faster their muscles waste, which not only risks their health but also their independence.

Personalised Healthcare 

This plan would allow patients to get the care they specifically need in order to stay healthy and help them to stay independent for longer. It helps not only the patients, but also lessens the burden on the NHS. In her announcement, Theresa May mentioned that ‘the longer a patient stays in hospital, the more it costs the NHS and the more pressure is put on the hard-working staff’. With the pressure the NHS is facing, in most cases, the best they can offer is a standard ‘one size fits all’ approach, which may not prove to be effective in some groups of patients and so time, money and resources get wasted. This new focus on primary and community healthcare, can allow for a more tailored approach specific to the needs of the individual. 

Delays

Delays are also a huge problem which are caused as a result of unnecessary hospital admission and stays. This can be delays in waiting times, delays for other patients, delays in routine operations and delays in transferring care between the NHS and social care services. The NHS Long Term Plan will help to aid patients in leaving sooner or even help to avoid them being admitted into hospital to begin with. Relieving this pressure on the NHS, could essentially free up to 2000-3000 beds.

The Future of the NHS 

The extra time, money and resources saved could also be used to focus on preventative measures and cures, instead of management and control, in addition to more personalised treatment. This could be a big step for the NHS, but first the way in which primary and community healthcare work together must change. 

Written by Sabrina K Bolia (Future Genetics Research Scientist)

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