NHS leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are strengthening the health services people can access in their local communities, building on feedback from more than 500 people and health professionals.
The NHS Long Term Plan,* published this week, highlights care outside hospital as a priority. It emphasises the importance of expanded community health teams working together to support people in their own homes as an alternative to hospital stays.
Nationally, as many as one third of people stay in hospital longer than they need to,** often because they are unable to access care close to home. Local NHS leaders are seeking to change this by advertising for a single organisation to provide adult community health services across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
The aim is to ensure everyone has access to consistently good and free NHS care, no matter where they live. This will help people stay independent, well and closer to home. Around £100 million per year will be dedicated to these services for the next ten years.
Community health services include community nursing, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and many others. In future, health and care professionals will work together more closely so people only need to tell their story once.
There will be better access to specialist healthcare teams in the community so people can manage their conditions at home and stay independent. There will also be a single way to access services and faster responses for people in need.
Dr Kate Rush, Associate Medical Director for NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
We know people do better when they’re treated closer to home and have services available to keep them well and independent - your best bed is your own bed. We have a fantastic community health workforce, all helping people to live independently at home for as long as possible .We want to build on this and link up with other services that promote wellbeing – from exercise to diet and mental health.
More than 500 patients, carers, healthcare professionals and representatives from community groups have helped to shape the future of community services. Bristol resident Mandie Lewis who cares for her disabled daughter, her husband with ME and her elderly mother said:
It makes such a difference to know there are people there to help when we need it, who we trust and will make life a bit easier for us in our time of need. Life can be incredibly tough. Knowing that services are available to offer support to my family but also help me as a carer is a great comfort. My hope is that people get the same good quality services, no matter where they live.
Services will be in place from April 2020, remaining free for the thousands of people who use them every year.