Changes to community and other primary care services are needed to move more care out of hospitals and into people's homes, says a report published by The King's Fund this month.
The report, Community Services: How They Can Transform Care, outlines that previous policy has failed to achieve this. It sets up a seven-step plan for change, which is based on community services working more closely with groups of general practices and building multidisciplinary teams to care for people with complex needs.
The report states that the scale of community services is poorly understood and is not helped by the labelling of services as 'GPs and hospitals' or 'primary and secondary care'.
However, it found growing support for community services and the changes needed.
The seven steps identified by the working group are to reduce the unnecessary complexity of community services, forge closer relationships between groups of general practices, build multidisciplinary teams for people with complex needs, support these teams with specialist medical input - particularly for older people and those with chronic conditions, create services that offer an alternative to hospital stay, build the information infrastructure, workforce, and ways of working and commissioning that are required to support this, and reach out into the wider community to improve prevention, provide support for isolated people, and create healthy communities.
Nigel Edwards, senior fellow at The King's Fund, said: 'There is an emerging consensus about the value of community services. Although some progress has been made, radical change is needed to realise the ambition of moving more care out of hospital and closer to people's homes. With the health system under increasing pressure, especially the hospital sector, improving the effectiveness of community services is essential - it is time to bring community services from the margins to the mainstream.'
The full report is available at www.kingsfund.org.uk/community-services and can be followed on Twitter using #communityservices.