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Strategic use of community hospitals could address NHS inefficiencies


By Carolyn Wickware
17 July 2017

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Better use of community hospitals could be the key to more efficiency in the NHS, new research has found.

The research funded by the NHS’s National Institute for Health Research found that community hospitals have a role to play in integrated care by offering health and social care closer to people’s homes.

Better use of community hospitals could be the key to more efficiency in the NHS, new research has found.

The research funded by the NHS’s National Institute for Health Research found that community hospitals have a role to play in integrated care by offering health and social care closer to people’s homes.

There are currently 300 community hospitals, 219 of which have beds, which the researchers said could be used to treat patients with long term conditions, easing pressure on A&Es.

However, the study notes that there is no defined role for community hospitals except to respond to the needs of larger hospitals.

GPs and nurses in rural areas, without a nearby general hospital, initially set up community hospitals as places where patients could be treated.

But the report found, after studying community hospitals in five countries, that community hospitals can provide a range of services, from preventative and primary care, through to inpatient and outpatient medical and surgical care.

The research also highlighted evidence of improved patient satisfaction when using community hospitals.

The researchers concluded: ‘At a time when emphasis is being placed on integrated and community-based care, community hospitals have the potential to assume a more strategic role in health-care delivery locally, providing care closer to people’s homes.

But they also noted that there ‘is a need for more research into the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of community hospitals, the role of the community and optimal staff profiles’.

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