Handymen will be paid to fix patients’ draughty homes to help them stay healthy and out of hospital, NHS boss reveals
Handymen will be sent to fix draughty and mouldy homes in a bid to reduce pressure on overstretched hospitals.
NHS chief Amanda Pritchard said that simple home improvements could slash costly admissions and overnight stays.
The work may involve fitting handrails to prevent falls among the elderly or cleaning mould from walls to improve breathing problems among children.
Maintenance units could also fix leaks or seal draughts.
Handymen will be called in by ‘urgent community response’ teams to fix patients’ homes in order to ease pressure on hospitals in England
Mrs Pritchard said handymen would be called in by ‘urgent community response’ teams that operate across two thirds of England.
The teams – a collaboration between the NHS and councils – combine GPs, nurses and social workers. Town halls would pay for any repair work, not the health service. NHS England wants all areas of the country to provide a comprehensive service by next April.
Mrs Pritchard said: ‘There are some great examples out there of how NHS and councils are working hand in hand – care workers alongside clinicians – to provide a rapid two-hour response, 24 hours a day, to those who need it.
‘Without that, the kind of people we’re talking about would often require an ambulance response, in some cases a conveyance to A&E and an admission at the end of the journey. We know for frailer people in particular one night can turn into a few while the care package is worked out and put in place for that individual.
‘Every one of those nights increases the risk of deconditioning and it is not the right place for people to be if they don’t need to be, not to mention the fact that of course it’s upsetting to be away from your familiar surroundings.
‘Urgent community response teams are crucial to our vision for urgent emergency care.’
She revealed that the scheme in Leicestershire and Rutland had helped 12,000 patients through different stages of illness.
‘We really want to bring the benefits of this unique mix of skills to more patients,’ she said. ‘We recently launched a 100-day challenge to try to make sure that teams get as many appropriate cases referred directly from 999 and 111 as possible, so that they’re able to help more patients in their homes and free up ambulance crews for more urgent jobs.’
The chief executive said services with established urgent care responses were able to ask ‘What’s next?’, adding: ‘The core of that service is bringing together people with complementary, but different, skills so that the person who needs support, whatever that happens to be, gets it through a one-stop shop model.
‘That could be about equipment being provided on the day, it could be about a handyman going around during the day, it could be about a whole package of support being put in within 12 hours.’
Her comments came as the Liberal Democrats called for the military to be drafted in to help struggling ambulance services this winter.
A parliamentary question from the party revealed that all ten ambulance trusts in England were operating at the highest level of alert last month.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Daisy Cooper said: ‘We’re talking about loved ones waiting for ambulances that arrive too late or get stuck in queues at hospitals with devastating results. The Prime Minister must get a grip on this crisis.’
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