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GPs lead scheme to cut hospital admissions

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs say they have developed a patient care model that has achieved dramatic reductions in the number of patients urgently admitted to hospital and saved the local NHS millions.

It comes in the same week as the Department of Health's quality and productivity chief called on GPs to cut the number of unscheduled admissions in patients with long term conditions by a fifth, as part of a DH drive to save money by implementing a new model of care designed to deliver massive reductions in hospital activity.

NHS Cumbria claims it has cut the number of urgent admissions by 800, or 6% in just two years, bucking a trend that sent admissions in the North West spiralling by around 10% a year.

The trust says the reduction in admissions, which costs the trust £1,700 per patients, has saved £6m a year for local NHS services.

Urgent admissions now account for more than a third of all hospital stays nationally and cost the NHS an estimated £11bn every year.

The GP-led scheme in Cumbria uses community health services, including special teams of community nurses, home carers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists to help people stay at home rather than being admitted to hospital.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Sir John Oldham, national clinical lead for quality and productivity, called on all GPs to employ a new model of care to help keep patients out of hospital, which would include ‘creating generic neighbourhood care teams with a population of 25-30,000, which including primary care and social and community services, but only one of those holding the ring for a patient.'

Dr Peter Weaving, a GP in Brampton, Cumbria and commissioning locality lead for NHS Cumbria, said: ‘Behind these statistics are real patients who are receiving real improvements in the care and support they receive, closer to home.

‘Local NHS budgets will have to stretch further than ever before in these difficult times. Prevention is always better than cure and by creating better community health services, we can reduce the risk of someone having to go into hospital and deliver better value or money at the same time.

‘Some of this extra money can also be used to invest in our local hospitals to provide specialist services currently only available outside Cumbria. As well as being right for patients, reductions in urgent admissions are right for taxpayers.'

GPs lead scheme to cut hospital admissions