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Poor community care blamed for increased A&E admissions

Poor community care blamed for increased A&E admissions

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A lack of “effective alternatives” to hospital admission has been blamed for increasing emergency admissions in a new report. 

The National Audit Office (NAO) noted that although the rate of emergency admissions has slowed, the NHS has been too slow in developing alternatives. 

The NAO cited a lack of alignment between hospital and community and local services opening hours as compromising the efforts to avoid admissions. 

Changing medical practices and models of care are also factors, the NAO stated. 

The organisation has called on the Department of Health and NHS England to address barriers to seven-day working in hospitals. 

Amyas Morse, NAO head said: “Growth in emergency admissions is a sign that the rest of the health system may not be working properly. 

"Making sure patients are treated in the most appropriate setting and in a timely manner is essential to taking the pressure off emergency hospital admissions.”

The report notes that all organisations in the health and social care sector have a role to play in managing emergency admissions: by reducing avoidable emergency admissions, effectively managing those patients who are admitted and ensuring they stay no longer than is necessary. 

 Professor Keith Willett, director for acute episodes of care for NHS England said: “As the report recommends, we must collectively take substantial steps to ensure patients receive the best possible care preferably out of hospital but also when necessary in hospital. To achieve that it is clear the way we provide health and social care must change so our hospitals, GP and community services have the space to do that. 

“The NHS cannot change on its own. We need to build the support and understanding of patients, the public and politicians to enable us take the big decisions to develop effective alternatives to emergency admission to hospital. This report to the government from the National Audit Office helps us build that understanding.” 

The full report is available to view on the NAO website. 

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