Hospital Admission Cut Plan 'Risky'

Researchers Warned That £3.8bn Government Reform Scheme Is "Overly Optimistic"

23.05.2014

Health researchers have warned that a £3.8 billion plan to cut hospital admissions in the UK is "risky" and "overly optimistic".

Writing for the BBC, Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said that the Better Care Fund will face a number of obstacles if it is to work, as previous attempts to reduce the number of people attending A&E have been met with failure.

According to Mr Edwards, the majority of hospital costs come from people who have long-term health needs, or are admitted with critical injuries or illnesses.

Around 50 per cent of people that visit a hospital are discharged within two days of attendance, and so cutting these people out would save that much money, Mr Edwards argues.

"Most beds are occupied by relatively small numbers of patients who stay a long time. In fact, in medical wards ten per cent of the patients that stay in hospital for more than a week use over 71 per cent of the beds," Mr Edwards explained.

However, health minister Norman Lamb disagreed with Mr Edwards and explained that the Better Care Fund isn't just focused on reducing hospital admissions, but mainly shortening the length of time people stay on wards.

"It's a new joined-up approach which will transform patient care," Mr Lamb claimed.

Mr Edward's comments come as the Department of Health launched its Living Well for Longer plan, which aims to reduce both premature mortality and a drop in later-life quality that has been seen in the past few years.

The government believes this will be an important moment in the history of public health in England and could even help reduce pressure on the NHS over a longer period of time.

However, Labour believes a more radical structural change must be made to the NHS in order to balance its budget and avoid rising levels of obesity and alcoholism among general members of the public.

Expert Opinion
This is a time when many potential strategies and avenues regarding the future of the NHS are being mooted. However, it is vital that – whatever the future does hold for the health service – patient safety remains the core priority of the organisation.

"It is vital that patients always get the best possible treatment and support, regardless of what this means in terms of the length of their stay in hospital. People deserve to get good quality care."
Mandy Luckman, Partner