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Report calls for radical changes to community care

Report calls for radical changes to community care

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Radical changes to community services are needed to realise the ambition of moving more care out of hospital and closer to people's homes, says a new report published by The King's Fund.

The report, which is based on the findings of a working group of community trusts convened by the Fund, argues that previous policy has failed to achieve this longstanding ambition. 

The report argues that the scale of community services is poorly understood and not well served by the way the debate on health services is often dominated by 'GPs and hospitals' or 'primary and secondary care'. 

Nigel Edwards, Senior Fellow at The King's Fund said: "There is an emerging consensus about the value of community services. Although some progress has been made, radical change is needed to realise the ambition of moving more care out of hospital and closer to people's homes. 

"With the health system under increasing pressure, especially the hospital sector, improving the effectiveness of community services is essential – it is time to bring community services from the margins to the mainstream."

The King's Fund has set out a seven-step 'plan for change', based on community services working more closely with groups of general practices and building multidisciplinary teams to care for people with complex needs. 

The healthcare thinktank believes this would reduce hospital admission rates, releasing resources for patients to be cared for at home and stemming growing demand for hospital beds.

The seven steps are:

 - Reduce unnecessary complexity of community services.

 - Forge much closer relationships with groups of general practices.

 - Build multidisciplinary teams for people with complex needs, including social care, mental health and other services.

 - Support these teams with specialist medical input – particularly for older people and those with chronic conditions.

 - Create services that offer an alternative to hospital stay.

 - Build the information infrastructure, workforce, and ways of working and commissioning that are required to support this.

 - Reach out into the wider community to improve prevention, provide support for isolated people, and create healthy communities.

The full report is available on the King's Fund website

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