The Scottish government is to invest £5m on improving the flow of patients from accident and emergency departments into more appropriate care settings, especially the home.
The funding, which is to help health boards to improve the flow of patients through the health and social care services, was announced yesterday by Scottish health secretary Alex Neil.
“Lessons must be shared across the NHS, so appropriate levels of investment can be made”
It is earmarked for intermediate care and services that support patients to regain independence.
The Scottish government hopes that by improving the way patients move through hospital and are supported at home, more people will be moved from A&E to an appropriate ward sooner.
“This investment will help improve the journey of many patients through hospital and back home supported by appropriate care services so they can leave hospital as soon as they are able,” said Mr Neil.
“Improving flow through hospitals not only benefits the individual patient, but also helps improve the performance in frontline services like A&E and planned operations,” he said during a visit to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh, which plans to use the investments to develop a hospital-to-home model and enhance intermediate care and reablement services.
The funding will be available to Lothian, Grampian, Fife, Lanarkshire, Highland, Forth Valley and Greater Glasgow & Clyde board areas.
Melanie Johnson, director of unscheduled care at NHS Lothian, said: “The funding will support the implementation of new teams which will act as a bridge between hospitals and social care.”
Ellen Hudson, associate director of RCN Scotland, described the funding as a “step in the right direction”.
“But as it is one-off funding for such a big issue and only available to a selected group of health boards, its impact must be carefully monitored,” she warned.
“Lessons must be shared across the NHS, so appropriate levels of investment can be made to make sure patient flow improves on a permanent basis,” said Ms Hudson.
She added: “Otherwise, it risks being like the ‘Change Fund’ money, which was designed to improve care for older people but resulted in many one-off projects which have not been sustained.”