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Targets are not a substitute for proper funding

jaimie kaffash 2 duo 3x2

jaimie kaffash 2 duo 3×2

Simon Stevens’ announcement that he wants hospitals to cut ‘excess stays’ by 25% seems pretty sensible on the face of it, in the same way as ‘eliminating inappropriate deaths’ or ‘eradicating never events’.

The problem is that, infuriatingly, these patients still require care even once they’ve left the hospital. And the community – which is the only place these patients can go – doesn’t have the capacity to deal with their care either.

In fairness, Stevens does provide some suggestions about how to care for patients outside hospitals. But unfortunately, they are all the usual suspects: seven-day access; support for care home staff; and increasing the use of emergency care intensive support teams.

The one thing they all have in common, of course, is piling more work on practices. They are the ones left to deal with the care home staff’s tendency to call practices whenever anything goes wrong, or the lack of communication when the intensive support teams get involved.

The target itself is not enough to bring about change – trusts will find a way of meeting the target in ways that will most likely lead to a worsening of care.

The real solution is simple. Provide local authorities with the funding they need to provide proper social care for patients discharged from hospitals. But this is expensive. Far easier to set a target instead.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse