King’s Fund calls for investment in community healthcare

 The UK needs major investment in community-based healthcare funded though the partial “decommissioning” of acute care, according to the King’s Fund.

The health think tank’s report calls for a major shift towards integrated care, relying on new technologies and flexible “health and social care teams”.

The King’s Fund argues that health providers need to focus on implementation to make sure that ideas proven effective for home-based care are put into practice.

The report Transforming health and social care points out that these ideas have been current since the Darzi review of the NHS, but the current economic challenges have made it urgently necessary for them to become reality.

Echoing comments by NHS Confederation leader Mike Farrar, the authors suggest that “decommissioning outdated models of care” is necessary “to create resources and space for new ones to emerge”.

They use the example of mental health care, where in-patient care was almost entirely phased out in the 1990s, as an example of a radical change in services driven by “a vision of care being delivered in the community”.

In addition, they argue, NHS organisations must be supported to “adopt established best practices” and experiment with new ones; and it must be made easier “for new providers to enter the market”.

Chris Ham (pictured), co-author of the report, said he hoped the new Health Secretary would “show real political leadership” by addressing the “long-term” issues highlighted by the report, and focusing on “services not structures”.