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CQC calls for caseload shift into primary care

By Gareth Iacobucci, Ian Quinn

The Care Quality Commission has identified the need for a huge shift of care out of hospitals and into primary care to generate cash savings.

In its first annual report since its inception, State of healthcare and adult social care, the regulator advises the NHS to reduce the number of repeat emergency admissions to hospital, and the length of hospital stays for these patients.

The call – which is beyond the customary remit of a healthcare regulator – comes despite newly published research, reported by Pulse last week, that suggests children are being put at risk by hospitals which discharge them too quickly.

But the CQC said necessary cuts in hospital activity could be achieved by treating people more in community settings.

Its report says: ‘Some older people are admitted to hospital as emergencies twice or more every year, and some of these admissions might not be necessary if people were cared for better in the community.'

‘If every local area could reduce the number of people admitted repeatedly as emergencies, and the length of time these people spend in hospital, to the low levels seen in the best performing areas of the country, this would result in an annual saving of around £2 billion to hospital budgets.'

Elsewhere, the report also highlights the problem of under-reporting of incidents occurring in primary care, despite acknowledging improvements in this area.

It says: ‘Reporting from general practice needs to improve: even though 90% of patient contact with the NHS takes place within general practices, only 3,417 incidents were reported from general practice, compared to 693,700 incidents from hospitals.'