Treatment at home to save hospitals’ cash

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FEWER people could be treated at Eastbourne’s hospital to save money.

To wean people off receiving costly treatments at Eastbourne District General Hospital (DGH), the NHS East Sussex Downs and Weald and NHS Hastings and Rother are changing the culture of treatment to keep patients at home.

Over four years the primary care trusts (PCT), who control the funding of the East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust (ESHT), aim to make savings of £129 million by keeping patients out of hospitals in East Sussex.

In a report titled Commissioning Intentions, the PCTs said, “The key drivers are reducing activity and moving care closer to home.”

The ESHT, which oversees the DGH, has been asked to review and approve the changes.

ESHT’s medical director Dr David Hughes said, “We are keen to work together with the PCT around the commissioning of services.

“But we want to make sure quality services are delivered in the right places at the right time.

“If that actually is getting the services closer to people’s homes that can only be a good thing. We have perhaps had a lot of reliance on hospital care, but people perhaps prefer to be in their own environment.”

The PCTs want GPs and community services to provide more care to reduce the number patients attending hospital.

They used the Community Respiratory Service, which would treat sufferers of chronic respiratory problems with home visits by nurses, as an example of the alternative model – potentially reducing the number of hospital admissions for ailments such as bronchiectasis by 25 per cent and saving £424,000 a year.

East Sussex PCTs earmarked musculoskeletal, stroke, end of life care, cancer and mental health services to be moved away from hospital treatments to primary care.

The report concluded, “Although the current coalition government has committed to protecting NHS resources, the local health economy still faces a substantial change compared to the previous years of consistently high levels of growth.

“The consequential impact for 2011/12 is that the health economy will be required to collectively deliver substantial improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.”