A MULTI-MILLION pound scheme to cut hospital admissions is being piloted in Sunderland.
The £3.8billion Better Care Fund, due to be rolled out across England in 2015, aims to bring together health and social care, so vulnerable people spend less time in hospital.
Sunderland is one of the first five areas in the country to have its Better Care Fund plan approved by the Government.
Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins visited Houghton Primary Care Centre to welcome the £160million programme, developed by Sunderland City Council and the city’s NHS.
The new policy, which will join spending on adult social care and out-of-hospital healthcare, aims for a 15 per cent cut in Sunderland’s emergency hospital admissions by 2020, and a seven per cent drop in elderly people going into residential care.
However, the Better Care Fund has come in for criticism after a damning Whitehall review.
Intended to stop the NHS being overwhelmed, the Cabinet Office claimed plans to save money from local hospital budgets by moving care elsewhere, were lacking in financial detail.
Mr Hopkins defended the Fund, saying: “I have just spent an hour with health professionals and they are extremely confident.
“I have spoken to front-line nurses and carers, they believe this is the right route.
“They don’t want to see poor elderly patients have to describe what is wrong with them over and over again.
“They want to go to one location and make sure the patient is cared for.
“The Houghton Primary Care Centre is a great example of this working in action, as it already treats people out of hospital and closer to home.”
Projects run under the scheme would help frail older people and those with long-term health problems receive care at home.
Dr Ian Pattison, chairman of Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Being able to deliver the right kind of care for both mental and physical well-being, often closer to home, is absolutely central to what we are trying to achieve.”