Chief nurse: ‘Cut hospital beds to increase care at home’

Chief nurse: ‘Cut hospital beds to increase care at home’

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The NHS should spend cash on care at home rather than on hospital beds, according to Professor Jane Cummings
Cutting hospital beds and using the money for care at home could mean better treatment for patients, according to NHS England’s chief nursing officer.

Prof Jane Cummings writes in the Daily Telegraph that freeing up the money put into “old and expensive buildings” is one way the health service can improve.

Staying in hospital too long can often make patients more ill, she claims.

Prof Cummings also says “outdated models of care” need to change.

The article is in response to a review set up by the NHS which split England into 44 areas, ordering local managers and councils to come up with Sustainability and Transformation Plans to improve efficiency.

Prof Cummings describes the issues facing a local NHS organisation in Devon.

“[It] wants to invest in home-based care, but it struggles because resources are currently tied up in hospital beds,” wrote Prof Cummings.

“Many patients stay in those beds for too long, because home care is not available, often becoming more ill as a result.

“With more care provided at home, the NHS can spend more cash on patients rather than maintaining old and expensive buildings. And more people can be better looked after, with care personalised to their needs.”

Media captionJane Cummings, England’s chief nursing officer, speaking to the BBC in December about treating patients with “compassion, respect and dignity”

‘Squeeze maximum value’

NHS England is estimated to spend around £820m a year treating older patients in hospital who no longer need acute clinical care.

Prof Cummings accepts there will always be “vigorous debate” over how much money the government puts into the system.

But she says it is the job of health professionals to “squeeze the maximum value” out of the budgets they are given.

“That means changing outdated models of care so that patients don’t fall into cracks between different parts of the system and ensuring that we provide care based around their needs, and not those of NHS organisations,” said Prof Cummings.

“Since 1948, the NHS has adapted itself constantly and it must continue to do so as the world and our health needs will continue to change.”

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