New personal service for older & vulnerable patients
Published on 05 July 2013 12:01 AM
On the NHS' 65th birthday, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will set out plans on Friday to make the NHS a more personal service for vulnerable and older patients.
Jeremy Hunt will announce that those who use the NHS most - older people with complicated health needs - will have a named clinician responsible for them at all times when they are out of hospital, whether they are at home or in a care home.
In practice, this will mean that just as a consultant is in charge of a patient's care in hospital, so a GP, or community doctor or nurse will be in charge of their care outside hospital.
The aim of these measures is to ensure that every element of their treatment is personalised and tailored around their individual needs, regardless of whether they have 1, 2, 3 or more long-term conditions, or are trying to settle back at home after a fall.
The Health Secretary will ask NHS England to put plans in place from April 2014 to drive forward better integrated, coordinated out of hospital care.
And it will mean that patients and relatives have a single point of information and responsibility for their care.
Heaviest NHS users lose out
The people the NHS fails most are its heaviest users - older people with multiple conditions. This is just one of the reasons why the Government made £3.8 billion available for better care integration and helping older people stay out of hospital in the recent Spending Review.
The Government believes that this is merely the starting point and that these new proposals will eventually be rolled out to all users of out-of-hospital care.
In Friday's announcement, Jeremy Hunt will praise the millions of NHS staff who 'literally save lives round the clock', adding that 'we owe them a huge debt of gratitude'.
Living in a different time
Mr Hunt, however, will emphasise that the NHS in 2013 has to cope with a completely transformed landscape to when it was born 65 years ago.
He will say: 'The world today is very different to 1948 - most people now leave hospital with long-term conditions which need to be supported and managed at home.
'Fully one quarter of the population now has a chronic condition, including 2.8m with diabetes, 3m people with COPD and 2.3m with heart disease - all of whom need radically different models of care to what the NHS has been accustomed to.'
'So the challenge today is to provide Integrated, coordinated out-of-hospital care - to do that we need to know that there is a clinician accountable for vulnerable older people in the community just as there is a consultant responsible for them in hospital.
'As a member of the public I would like that to be my GP - but whoever it is they should be named so that patients, families and carers all know where the buck stops.'
Age UK's response
Commenting on the new proposals from Jeremy Hunt, Age UK's Charity Director-General Michelle Mitchell said:
'We know that older people appreciate continuity of care and we are looking forward to working with NHS England on the Older Peoples' Plan.
'However a new strategy must be prepared to confront some fundamental issues. The NHS ultimately needs to change the way it delivers care to older people, who can often have multiple long term conditions.
'We would like to see a much more holistic approach which addresses older people's overall health and social care needs.