Responding to the Public Accounts Committee's report on emergency admissions to hospital, Chris Ham, Chief Executive at The King's Fund said:
'Emergency admissions have been increasing for some time and have risen sharply this winter. Reducing emergency admissions has long been a goal for the NHS – avoidable admissions add to pressures on hospitals and can be disruptive and unsettling for patients.
'Reducing emergency admissions will become even more important when the Better Care Fund is introduced in 2015. The Fund is an opportunity to drive forward integrated care but will increase financial pressures on hospitals at a time when many are already running up deficits. NHS England has estimated that a 15 per cent reduction in emergency activity will be needed to pay for the Better Care Fund – this suggests that many hospitals could be tipped into financial crisis unless admissions can be significantly reduced.
'Our work shows there are opportunities to reduce emergency admissions among older people and by tackling variations in admissions for conditions that can be treated outside hospital. This requires radical changes to services to provide integrated care that better meet the needs of patients, closer to their homes. In particular, general practices need to work together at scale and with other health and social care professionals to provide a much wider range of services outside hospitals.
'The Committee is right to highlight shortages of A&E consultants. While forecasts suggest a general over-supply of hospital doctors in future, shortages are developing in key specialties including A&E. We support the use of financial incentives as part of the strategy for addressing this.'
Notes to editors:
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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.