Friday, May 30, 2014

New NHS boss backs community hospitals

In an interview which was seen as support both for smaller District General Hospitals such as West Cumberland Hospital, and of Community hospitals such as Millom hospital,Simon Stevens, the new Chief Executive of the NHS, told the Daily Telegraph that smaller hospitals should play a bigger role especially in the care of older patients.

In this Daily Telegraph interview, Simon Stevens signalled a change in policy by calling for a shift away from big centralised hospitals.

The health service chief executive said there needed to be new models of care built around smaller local hospitals.

The NHS said he was not suggesting the return of 50s-style cottage hospitals.

In recent years the health service has emphasised the benefits of centralised services. This has paid dividends in areas such as stroke care and major trauma where significant benefits have been gained by concentrating specialist care.

But it has been seen as a question mark over the future of the many smaller district general hospitals across the NHS such as West Cumberland Hospital.

In the interview in Friday's paper, Mr Stevens said they should play an important part in providing care, especially for the growing number of older patents who could be treated closer to home.

He said: "A number of other countries have found it possible to run viable local hospitals serving smaller communities than sometimes we think are sustainable in the NHS.

"Most of western Europe has hospitals which are able to serve their local communities, without everything having to be centralised."

Mr Stephens said that elderly patients were increasingly ending up in hospital unnecessarily because they had not been given care which could have kept them at home.

Mr Stevens also told the Telegraph:

  • The NHS needs to abandon a fixation with "mass centralisation" and instead invest in community services to care for the elderly
  • Waiting targets introduced by Labour became "an impediment to care" in too many cases
  • The European Working Time Directive damaged health care in the NHS, making it harder to keep small hospitals open
  • Businesses should financially reward employees for losing weight and adopting healthy lifestyles


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