The future of community health services

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What did we do in this project?

Our final report Shaping PCT Provider Services: The future for community health, was published in April 2009, and draws on a range of evidence about community services and health care service development. It aims to help primary care trusts to develop a service and organisational strategy that addresses key performance issues as well as to configure services to meet the changing needs of their local population.

Why were we interested in this piece of work?

The way in which community health services are provided has changed little since the NHS was established in 1948. Community health services have suffered from many years of inattention and underinvestment. As a consequence, the services provided vary widely in terms of performance and productivity, and the necessary facilities and support, both managerial and technical, are often lacking.

Yet the challenges faced by community services are increasing significantly: care is shifting from hospital to community settings, the population is ageing and the number of people with long-term conditions is growing. There is a compelling case to modernise services and to improve the degree of co-ordination with other services, particularly in primary and social care.