Primary and community care will receive a £3.5bn real-terms increase in funding by 2023/24 as part of the government’s long-term plan for the NHS, prime minister Theresa May has said.
Ms May also announced two initiatives: new community-based 24/7 rapid response teams including GPs, nurses and physiotherapists, to care for those who would be better treated at home than in hospital; and a national programme where healthcare professionals, including pharmacists and GPs, are assigned to care homes, and can offer emergency care during out of hours
The new investment in primary and community healthcare will build on the ‘existing NHS budget for these services’ and forms ‘a key part of the long-term plan for the NHS,’ according to the prime minister’s statement.
‘The new approach we’re setting out today will mean more people can leave hospital quicker, or avoid being admitted in the first place – which is better for patients and better for the health service,’ she said.
Ms May also claimed that the new funding boost was as a direct result of withdrawing from the European Union.
She said: ‘Leaving the EU means taking back control of our money as we will no longer be sending vast sums to Brussels.
This helps our public finances and means we have more money to spend on domestic priorities like our NHS. And we’ve been able to fully fund this historic commitment without raising taxes.’
In June, the Government announced the NHS would recieve a £20.5bn funding boost that would be spent according to a long-term plan for the NHS – the full details of which have yet to be revealed.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Every patient deserves to receive care tailored to their needs. Yet too often our hospitals become the only place to turn for older people, often to the detriment of their health – but no longer.
‘The Prime Minister and I are determined to ensure more people are able to receive care in their communities or at home, taking the pressure of our hard working NHS staff.
‘This additional funding of £3.5 billion a year by 2023/24 demonstrates our commitment to primary and community healthcare, capable of relieving the burden on our hospitals over the coming years and revolutionising the way high-quality care is delivered for our most vulnerable patients.’
Matthew Winn, chair of the Community Network, which has been established by NHS Confederation and NHS Providers, said:
“The increase in funding of primary care medical services and community health services is a hugely welcome step forward.
“The largest numbers of patients receive their care and support in these services and therefore the new funding for them is vital.
“It will also ensure that all local areas across England can now implement robust models of integrated care. This will ensure that local residents will receive care that no longer is disjointed and supports them to live well in their own homes.
“Working together, primary and community health services will make large changes in supporting local residents, especially frail people, that reduces the number of times people are admitted to acute hospitals and allows them to stay well as they get older.”
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Councils have called for greater investment in community support to be central to how the extra funding given to the NHS is spent so it is good that our call has been heard. This investment will help alleviate some of the pressures facing our adult social care system and make a positive difference to people’s lives.
“Greater investment in community support is the surest way to reduce hospital admissions and help the health and care system become more sustainable in the long-term.
“We look forward to the detail and working with our community partners to make sure our health and care systems work well together to maximise the potential of this funding.
“Government now needs to ensure that councils’ prevention work is also adequately funded by reversing the £600 million in reductions to councils’ public health grants and plugging the £3.5 billion funding gap facing adult social care by 2025.”