Jeremy Hunt announces named clinicians to be assigned to older patients
8th July 2013
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced this week that a new initiative, which will see older people have a named carer assigned to them, will be unveiled at an event to mark the 65th anniversary of the NHS.
The health secretary made the announcement at a speech which honoured the work that the NHS has done in the last 65 years. In his speech he spoke of how healthcare has changed in England now that we are living longer and enjoying more retirement years, describing the original model as one of "curable illnesses where you went into hospital unwell and came out better". Now, people leave hospital with long-term conditions that need careful monitoring in the form of support at home.
Many older people have the desire to live at home after being discharged from hospital, relying on support from family members and mobility aids such as stair lifts. Under these new plans, older people that leave hospital with long-term conditions will now have a named doctor or nurse responsible for their care whilst living at home or in care. This will ensure that someone is held accountable for the health and comfort of vulnerable older patients "at all times".
In his speech, Jeremy Hunt described how the implementation of this scheme could enable the NHS to "lead the world" in terms of providing the best elderly healthcare, and that this is just one of many steps towards providing "integrated, co-ordinated, out of hospital care." Criticism of the divided health and social care systems in England that have been responsible for support for elderly people has been widespread, and this named clinician initiative will help bridge this gap. The patient will have a point of contact with a medical professional at all times, and families and other carers for the patient will be able to contact this person regarding the care that the patient is receiving.
The policy will begin to be implemented across England in 2014 as the government has recognised that there is an urgent need for older people living independently at home to have support other than that provided by adjustable chairs and other mobility aids; support that holds someone accountable. Underlying all of this is Jeremy Hunt's hope that the NHS, and out-of-hospital care in particular, is characterised by "personal contact" again, returning to the kind of care where GPs, other doctors and nurses stepped outside of their local surgeries and visited older people at home.
Image Credit: University of Salford (flickr.com)
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