The NHS Plan, published last month, aims to break down the old divisions between health and social services so that patients receive a seamless service tailored to their particular need. The Plan has been followed by the announcement that a 63 million pound budget is being made available for joint use by health and social services in the coming winter to bridge the gap between hospital and home and speed up patients’ discharge from hospital. It is expected that this will free up much needed hospital beds quickly, allowing other patients in greater need of direct hospital care to be treatedThe money will be used for patients who no longer need hospital care but are not quite well enough to care for themselves at home without support . The ‘step down’ care will be provided in hospitals, private nursing homes and in the patient’s home.
In a further move to limit the risk of a winter beds crisis an additional 340 critical care beds will be put in place. This 15% increase on last September has been made possible through a 150 million pound cash boost first announced in May.
A winter planning team is to be set up to target areas where health and social services could work more effectively together to support and encourage joint working and to stimulate rapid development of intermediate care. These staff will be drawn from the NHS, social services and the private sector.