A new report on the challenges facing the NHS and the provision of community services has revealed the urgent need for healthcare commissioners to invest in cost effective digital telecare services and applications.
NHS Providers’ State of the provider sector report, entitled ‘Community services: taking centre stage’ confirmed that technology has enabled “multiple interventions” to be carried out in the home or in community settings, which is essential to the integrity of healthcare provision as the population ages.
However, the report sets out how community services are struggling to meet demand as budgets decline. It further highlights that the majority (three quarters) of community care providers in England are worried that investment will fail to deliver services closer to home for patients in the next five years.
Tom Morton, CEO of telecare specialist Communicare247, said digital telecare services which enable people to stay in their homes longer as well as save commissioners cash were essential to overcoming the community care crunch facing England.
He said: “We welcome the report from NHS Providers which sets out in stark terms the damage that the lack of adequate support for people in their homes can cause.
“According to the report, a person aged 80 who spends ten days in a hospital bed adds ten years of ageing to their muscles, which makes their ability to live independently that much harder.
“Demographic trends for the UK population are undeniable. The NHS and community care commissioners must act now to ensure that robust systems of telecare and tele-healthcare that deliver improved patient outcomes are put into use. The report found that 91% of health care trusts expect the gap between funding and demand to widen significantly just in the next year.
“Not only this, but there is an urgent issue facing telecare service providers as the UK telephone network switches to digital. Existing systems are at risk and need to be modernised to deal with future requirements as soon as possible.
“We urge commissioners to plan and invest now in digital and technology-enabled care services such as 24-7 mobile monitoring, digital pill dispensers and other ‘hospital@home’ support systems. These are available, tested and deliver improved patient outcomes by ensuring people can leave hospital and get the care they need at home.”