Rapid response team roll-out for better home health

New plans outlined by NHS England include expert rapid response teams being on hand within two hours to help support older people to remain well at home and avoid hospital admissions.

As part of the NHS’ Long Term Plan to support England’s ageing population and those with complex needs, local health service and council teams will begin the roll out of Urgent Community Response teams from April. The teams will provide those who need it fast access to a range of qualified professionals who can address both their health and social care needs.

Aided by £14 million of investment, seven ‘accelerator’ sites will be the first to deliver the new standards for care, working together to standardise how urgent community services will be measured, and delivered consistently across the country, 365 days a year. They are: Warrington Together (Cheshire and Merseyside STP); West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (Kirklees); Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland system; Cornwall system; Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire system; South East London system; and Norfolk and Waveney system.

It is hoped that at least three of the seven areas will be fully up and running by next winter. Further areas across England will receive extra funding to begin working to the new standards from 2021, with every part of the country covered by April 2023. This will be supported by an additional £4.5 billion a year for primary care and community services by 2023/24.

As well as the two hour response, a two day standard will also apply for teams to put in place tailored packages of intermediate care, or reablement services, for individuals in their own homes, with the aim of restoring independence and confidence after a hospital stay.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “The NHS working hand in glove in the community with council-funded social care services can be the difference between an older person or someone with long-term health needs spending a week or a month on a ward – or getting the right help early so they don’t need to go to hospital in the first place. That’s why as part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS we are putting community services front and centre, and backing them with a growing share of the NHS budget – and putting in place these new standards will give people and their families peace of mind about what they can expect from their local services when they need help most.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “Long, avoidable hospital stays can be particularly distressing for older people and can strip them of their independence – something we absolutely must prevent. So we are rolling out this innovative new approach which will help treat our ageing population in the comfort of their own homes, helping them live independent lives for longer. This is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan, backed by record investment in the NHS, and we are committed to making sure this translates to better, safer care in the community.”

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