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NHS to spend £3.5bn on mobile medical teams to help keep elderly patients out of hospital 

Crack medical teams will lead a multi-billion pound revolution in community care aimed at keeping the elderly out of hospital and in their own homes.

Theresa May will announce tomorrow that rapid response teams of GPs and pharmacists will be sent into care homes, while doctors, nurses and physiotherapists will be put on standby to give the support needed to help pensioners.

The Prime Minister will say the £3.5billion investment in community health – out of £20billion promised for the NHS – will cut needless hospital admissions and enable patients to return home sooner. And it will help the NHS deal with bed-blocking, which has helped to push waiting times to record levels.

Theresa May will announce  that rapid response teams of GPs and pharmacists will be sent into care homes, while doctors, nurses and physiotherapists will be put on standby to give the support needed to help pensioners. 

Mrs May will claim the services can be funded as Britain will no longer be sending ‘vast sums’ of money to Brussels and will have more money for ‘domestic priorities like our NHS’.

No 10 said that, at present, as many as a third of people in hospital stay longer than they need to often because they cannot get treatment close to home. The new rapid response teams will provide 24/7 urgent care. They will be sent in to help people who have had a fall or have suffered a deterioration in an existing condition like lung disease.

Other support, such as diabetes screening, movement sessions for Parkinson’s sufferers and podiatry, will increasingly take place in the community rather than in hospital.

And to help elderly people remain at their care homes, pharmacists will visit to ensure that people are taking the drugs they need.

GPs will also be on hand to offer out-of-hours emergency care.

Evidence suggests that more than a third of hospital admissions from care homes are avoidable.

Mrs May will say: ‘Too often, people end up in hospital not because it’s the best place to meet their needs but because the support that would allow them to be treated or recover in their own home just isn’t available. Many of us might assume that hospital is the safest place to be – but, in reality, many patients would be much better off being cared for in the community. And the longer a patient stays in hospital, the more it costs the NHS and the more pressure is put on its hardworking staff. This needs to change.’

The scheme, which will be contained in next month’s long-awaited Long Term Plan for the NHS, is designed to help hospitals cope with the ageing population and the rise of more complex conditions.

Evidence shows that, for older people, ten days in a hospital bed leads to the equivalent of ten years of muscle ageing.

Dr Richard Vautrey, of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said: ‘Expanding the healthcare team is essential to enable more support to be offered to people in nursing homes, as is breaking down the barriers between care in the community and hospitals so, in principle, these are both positive pledges that we would want to work with the government and NHS England on developing further.’

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Any investment in patient care in the community is welcome and it’s essential that general practice, specifically, is at the heart of these plans and a key recipient of this new funding.

‘The Prime Minister’s announcement demonstrates recognition at the highest levels that a strong general practice service is central to the long-term sustainability of the NHS and patient care.’