Today, Liberal Democrats unveiled their plans for a Care Closer to Home fund. But what is this and how would it work? Read this Q&A to find out more.
What is the Care Closer to Home fund?
It would be a £2.5 billion health fund to safeguard the future of the our NHS by investing in care in people's homes, GP services and community clinics. It would help people live longer, healthier, happier lives and reduce the strain on our health service as a result by keeping people out of hospitals.
Why do we need it?
This £500 million a year plan will put into reality the vision of NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens which he outlined in his Five Year Forward View for the NHS.
Pressures on hospitals usually appear because of problems elsewhere in the health system. Elderly people can't be discharged from hospital because they don't have the appropriate care at home, or mums and dads are forced to take their children to A&E because the GP surgery is closed.
The fund will create a fairer society that will mean patients receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place, with them having more control over their treatment and support.
So what exactly will the fund invest in?
Areas of investment include:
- GP surgeries working together to provide care traditionally given in hospitals such as X rays and other diagnostic tests and procedures, so people don’t have to travel into hospital.
- Joined up organisations involving hospitals, GPs, mental health and community services. These will make it easier for patients to get the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
- Better access to GP surgeries by getting GPs to work together in ‘federations’ to resource weekend surgery duty, having more surgeries nearer A&E departments, having more chemists next to surgeries, and additional appointments being made available via email and Skype.
- More use of social prescribing so that people are helped to benefit from social activities like fishing or cookery clubs, or to do exercise or get access to nature.
- Better health care in care homes so older people do not need to go into hospital unnecessarily and can get discharged from hospital more easily
- Patients will get more control over their care with shared budgets for their health and care needs.
This radical, bottom up approach will build on the success the Liberal Democrats in government have already achieved on joining up health and care services.
Unlike Labour, who are dictating how many individual doctors and nurses should be recruited, the Liberal Democrats are backing the NHS to deliver better care and safeguard our NHS for the future.