Nearly 1.5 million emergency admissions to hospital could have been avoided
Failures across health and social care led to around 1.5 million emergency admissions to hospital that could have been avoided, MPs have said.
Nearly a quarter of the urgent admissions in 2016/17 would not have happened if services had been more effective, according to the Public Accounts Committee.
It said the lack of impact on cutting the “lamentable” numbers of avoidable admissions was “frustrating”.
PAC chairwoman Meg Hillier hit out at the lack of government cash for preventative care.
She said: “The consequences of Government’s failure to properly fund and coordinate preventive health care and social care are laid bare in this report.
“Around a quarter of emergency admissions to hospital could and should have been avoided.
“That they were not further threatens the ability of cash-strapped hospitals to cope with demand and risks harm to patients through, for example, unnecessary overnight stays or the postponement of operations.
“The benefits of work to reduce the impact of emergency admissions will inevitably be limited until hospitals, GPs, community services and social care work better together to drive down the level of avoidable admissions.”
An increase in bed occupancy rates is hitting hospitals’ ability to cope with emergency admissions, according to the report.
The average number of available beds at any one time dropped by nearly 6% from 2010/11 to 2016/17, it said.
Health trusts need to set out earlier what funding they will need to cope with winter pressures, MPs said after thousands of operations were cancelled following strains on the system earlier this year.
They said it was “disappointing” there was not better understanding of how the voluntary sector can help to reduce emergency admissions.
NHS England “does not seem to understand” what works or why when it comes to reducing emergency admissions.
That “hampers improvement” and prevents the “cash-strapped NHS from targeting taxpayers’ money on the things that work best”, according to the report.
Ms Hillier added: “NHS England and NHS Improvement must take a lead here and move swiftly to better understand the stresses across the health and social care sectors and their implications.
“A priority must be to properly identify the impact of measures intended to reduce emergency admissions and explain how this information will be used to target scarce resources effectively.
“The financial challenges facing the NHS and adult social care are well-documented and it is critical that taxpayers’ money is spent on what works best.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We know the social care system is under pressure, that’s why we’ve given an extra £2 billion funding and will shortly outline reforms so it is sustainable for the future, including closer integration of health and social care to support efforts to keep people healthy and out of hospital.
“The Prime Minister and Jeremy Hunt have committed to a long-term plan with a sustainable multi-year settlement for the NHS to help it manage growing patient demand, which will be agreed with NHS leaders, clinicians, and health experts.”
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