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Boost general practice to avoid 1.5m emergency admissions, say MPs

One quarter of emergency admissions could have been avoided if patients ‘had more effective community health care’, MPs have said.

The Public Accounts Committee blamed the 1.5m avoidable admissions on the NHS not making ‘the necessary investment’ in preventative care, and called on NHS England to identify and fill the gaps in primary care capacity.

The PAC’s reducing emergency admissions report found that:

  • There were 5.8 million emergency admissions to hospitals in England in 2016/17
  • Since 2013/14, avoidable admissions have been rising faster than the overall rate of emergency admissions
  • The NHS had not made the necessary investment to fund this kind of preventative work

The PAC said: ‘Some 24% of the emergency admissions were avoidable if people had more effective community health care and case management to prevent them getting so unwell that they needed emergency hospital care…

‘The NHS had not made the necessary investment to fund this kind of preventative work and the need to make short term savings means local areas have been overlooking investment in preventative services.’

The committee wrote: ‘NHS England should identify gaps in capacity in primary and community health care and set out how it intends to fill those gaps.

‘It should also consider the impact of pressures on social care provision on emergency admissions and use this understanding to inform discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and HM Treasury about the Green Paper on future funding of social care.’

This comes after the National Audit Office told NHS England to make ‘measurable’ reductions in emergency admissions by 2020.