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Better care fund to support health at home

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A £5.3 billion fund will support community nurses, care workers and GPs to provide more out-of-hospital care for vulnerable and elderly patients, the DH has announced.

The Better Care Fund aims to ease the pressures on hospitals by treating more patients in their own homes, which the DH says will give vulnerable patients greater dignity, as well as cutting the number of unnecessary A&E admissions. NHS England estimates that the fund will allow 18,000 patients to be treat out-of-hospital, by integrating information services between community and secondary care.

Using money from the fund, local authorities will provide seven- day care services so people get care at the weekends and are not left waiting in hospital, as well as giving every patient a named professional responsible for coordinating care between different services.

The fund was originally worth £3.8 billion, but increased to £5.8 billion after investment from local authorities.

Figures from the DH estimate that the plans will save the NHS £523 million, and reduce the number of unnecessary days in hospital by 101,000. They also state that the fund could cut the number of unnecessary visits to A&E by 163,000.

The fund was originally worth £3.8 billion, but increased to £5.8 billion after investment from local authorities. None of this is 'new' money, rather. Rather it is funds that have been ring-fenced within the existing NHS budget.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'For years, successive governments and NHS leaders have talked about joining up our health and care services so people get better care at the right time and in the right place. The time for talk is over – our plans will make this vision a reality for patients and help deliver a sustainable future for the NHS. Too many families experience being passed from pillar to post, between the NHS and their council, endlessly repeating their stories along the way. By breaking down barriers within the system, these plans will allow staff to work together to prevent people from becoming ill in the first place, meaning our hospitals can focus on treating the patients who really need to be there.'

Norman Lamb, the care and support minister, said: 'Too often care is uncoordinated, leaving many people needlessly going back to A&E again and again. By getting local health and care teams working together to focus on prevention, not just the treatments we need, we can stop families and the NHS from having to pay the price for these unnecessary crises.'

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