Plans to develop a network of intermediary medical homes across Wales with the care of patients at the heart of the initiative have been unveiled by Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Elin Jones AM.
The development of such a network forms part of Plaid Cymru’s plans to integrate Health and Social Care, by providing a ‘halfway house’ for patients who are not yet ready to return home, but do not require intensive hospital treatment. The development of these settings was recommended by the Carter review into potential efficiency savings in the English NHS as a way in which hospitals could reduce the cost of delayed transfers of care.
The Carter review estimated that delayed transfers of care cost the NHS £900 million a year in direct costs. On a like for like basis, the Welsh equivalent of this would be £45 million. Plaid Cymru estimates the cost of switching patients from hospital settings to extra care settings in nursing homes or community hospitals would be around £20 million, meaning the overall saving could be as much as £25 million.
Elin Jones AM said that a Plaid Cymru government would set up a fund of £20 million to ensure hospitals could fund intermediate nursing care for patients who would otherwise become delayed transfers of care. Hospitals would choose the most appropriate place for patients to be cared for, whether that was in a local community hospital or a nursing home. Under Plaid Cymru’s plans for integrating health and social care, these settings would be the responsibility of Local Authorities.
Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health, said:
“Far too many patients are spending longer than necessary in hospitals because of the lack of intermediary care available closer to home. This has not been helped by Labour’s closure of community hospitals. This costs the NHS money, and means patients will spend longer than needed in hospital, when all the evidence shows that patients will remain healthier if we can help them live more independently.
This was one of the many reasons why Plaid Cymru established the intermediate care fund in our budget deal of 2013 with Labour, and this policy has continued as it proved successful, although there are still around 500 delays each month. Our plans will lead to better, more integrated care and save the NHS money.
In the short term, our plans will keep community hospitals viable and enable some to re-open. In the longer run, when finance allows, we will be looking at developing additional purpose built facilities”