NHS to provide more care at home

Measures to shape NHS services around individual patients have been set out by Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

More dialysis at home and chemotherapy in the community will mean patients can benefit from more convenient services that help produce better outcomes and can be more efficient.

Focusing on providing care at home can also have a significant impact for social care.  A report from the Audit Commission shows that older people who have the opportunity to be looked after in their own home if they want to are happier and there are less costs to the taxpayer.  There are already examples of how being innovative can have significant outcomes and save money - for example, for the cost of just one month's care package, a home can be equipped with sensors and pagers to help a family look after a relative with dementia.

Other measures include providing more services at home for children and young people who have acute or long-term conditions or disability or palliative care needs, and giving more people the option to die at home if they wish to.

7000 patients across England could benefit from home dialysis - cutting out the need for regular long visits to hospital and allowing patients to lead more normal lives. Providing haemodialysis at home means that patients can tailor their dialysis sessions around their lifestyle. As well as benefits to patients, the annual costs of home haemodialysis could be up to 25% less than providing dialysis in a hospital or renal centre, and can lead to long-term savings once initial set-up costs are recovered.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham says, “The time has come for the NHS to make a decisive shift in providing more care out of hospitals and in the patient's community and home. For too long, services have been organised to fit the convenience of the system. Care in the home can also achieve better results and save money. Evidence shows that we can now do far more out of hospital and the NHS needs to move in this direction."

The Department of Health has published a guide for the NHS on developing chemotherapy services closer to home. Giving cancer patients the option of having chemotherapy at or closer to home where clinically appropriate can benefit patient experience and contribute to better outcomes.

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