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16 March 2017

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Invest in primary care to save underfunded hospitals, report says

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has released a report on called NHS reality check: Delivering care under pressure today (16 March) which highlights the burdens faced by the acute sector.

The report concluded that primary care and community services would need to be improved in order to reduce the current pressure on hospitals.

‘Lack of capacity’

‘Community health and social care services do not have the capacity to deliver all the care that is needed, meaning that high admission rates have coincided with record levels of delayed transfers of care,’ the report said.

‘Lack of capacity means that some people are discharged from hospital too soon, often to overstretched primary, community and social care services.’

The RCP called for investment in community and social care provision to ensure that people get the ‘right care, in the right place’, reducing avoidable hospital admissions and delayed transfers of care.

What is needed:

  • The report advocates for better stepdown provision to facilitate patients’ transition out of hospital;
  • Time allowed in job plans for physicians to build links across teams and settings, and to collaborate and innovate, and;
  • Ensuring that sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) reflect current need as well as future aspirations.

Prioritise public health and prevention

‘We need to adopt progressive public health policies and invest in prevention by reversing the cuts to the local authority public health allocation,’ the report said.

The report called on the Department of Health to ‘address nurse shortages and promote innovative staffing models, eg physician associates working with doctors’.