£5m fund set to take pressure off A&E

Andrew Bennett, chief officer at NHS Lancashire North clinical commissioning group,
Andrew Bennett, chief officer at NHS Lancashire North clinical commissioning group,

A £5m cash boost will reduce pressure on hospital A&E in Lancaster, according to health chiefs.

Better Care Together – the strategy to change NHS services in the Morecambe Bay area – has been awarded £4,730,000 in national health funding for 2016/17.

Commissioners say the money from the New Care Models Programme will result in fewer patients being referred or admitted to hospital.

Over the last two years University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT) has faced a crisis in its A&E department, warning all but extreme cases to stay away due to huge surges in demand.

In March 2015, A&E doctors launched furious attacks on NHS chiefs claiming only a fraction of £700m to relieve NHS winter pressures has been spent in frontline casualty units.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said money whad been “squandered” on schemes which have “self-evidently failed”.

The Better Care Together strategy is one of 50 communities across the country developing new models of care and the latest investment brings the total amount of funding received over the past year to £9m.

The funding is being used to strengthen links between services in the community to provide more support for people who are at risk of hospital admission due to long term health problems, frailty or old age.

“Investment will also be made to streamline hospital services for eye care, cardiology and musculo-skeletal conditions in order to reduce waiting times and visits to hospital. Local NHS organisations will also use some of the funding to invest in Information Technology to improve patient care.

Andrew Bennett, the senior responsible officer for Better Care Together, and Chief Officer of NHS Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “To receive this latest investment in Morecambe Bay is a vote of confidence in the work undertaken locally so far.

“Our challenge now is to make the changes in the way local services work together.

“This will result in fewer patients being referred to hospital, and fewer patients being admitted to hospital, with more appropriate forms of care arranged to support patients either in or closer to their homes.

“At the same time, we will be working with each of our local communities to understand what is important to them about their health and wellbeing.

“This is vital for the NHS to be sustainable into the future.”