Hospital Dr News

Government announces £3.5bn a year to revolutionise out-of-hospital care

The Prime Minister has announced an additional £3.5bn a year by 2023 to kick-start a revolution in out-of-hospital care.

GP leaders welcomed the investment pledge for primary and community healthcare, but both the BMA and RCGP called for more detail on how the funding would be spent.

However, health experts pointed out that the new investment comes from the £20.5bn-a-year the government announced for the NHS in the summer and is unlikely to be enough to keep up with spiraling demand.

The government called the planned investment a ‘historic commitment’ to increasing the proportion of NHS funding spent on primary and community services.

Theresa May said: “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 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.”

She set out plans for ‘community-based rapid response teams’ made up of doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff to support patients to remain out of hospital. May also unveiled plans for ‘dedicated support for care home residents’.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “Expanding the healthcare team is essential to enable more support to be offered to people in nursing homes, as is breaking down the barriers between care in the community and hospitals, so in principle these are both positive pledges that we would want to work with the government and NHS England on developing further.

“But as ever, the devil will be in the detail. We have been clear that general practice needs an urgent increase in investment to address the pressures affecting the profession and patients, and while this announcement is an important step forward, we will be seeking urgent assurance that this really is new investment for general practice and we will want early discussions on the detail of where the money will be spent.

“The government has said this funding will reach £3.5bn a year by 2023, but It is also imperative that there is no delay in it reaching the frontline as soon as possible. Hard-working doctors are leaving the profession as they battle rising demand and unsafe workloads, while patients are facing longer waits to be seen, so five years may well be too long to wait if we are to see a reverse in this worrying trend.”

Nuffield Trust Senior Policy Analyst Sally Gainsbury said: “This additional money amounts to annual increases that are broadly in line with the 3.4% overall that the NHS in England is getting over the next five years.

“That means that, far from representing a big shift in funding towards out-of-hospital services, this money will simply allow GPs and community services to keep up with demand over the next five years. That’s important, but it means the new money announced today is not going to lead to a significant change in the way that people experience healthcare.”

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