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Labour plans GP safety checks for older people

10-year plan for NHS will use GPs expertise to cut hospital admissions

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

GPs will be asked to carry out safety checks on all vulnerable older people to identify risks to their health and help prevent some hospital admissions if Labour wins at the general election in May.

The Labour Party today unveiled its 10-year plan for the NHS, part of which involves GPs managing a system that offers all vulnerable older people a preventative safety check to identify risks to their health like cold homes, loneliness and the likelihood of them falling.

Labour leader Ed Miliband gave a speech today in Trafford in which he outlined the idea and then more detail was given by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham during a speech at The King’s Fund in London.

Under the scheme, GPs would use computer software to identify the older people on their patient lists who were most at risk of hospitalisation and ensure they were given a check covering areas such as preventing:

  • falls by identifying and tackling hazards in the home – falls and fractures cost the NHS £2 billion a year
  • cold-related illnesses through home energy checks and linking people up with support
  • loneliness and depression by linking people up with social activities and support.

A similar scheme in Cornwall is already running which has seen a £4.40 return for every £1 invested, said Labour, with emergency hospital admissions down by 30%.

Mr Miliband said the NHS was facing “its most perilous moment” when voters went to the polls to vote in the general election, as the next government had to “rescue” the health service from the Conservative Party.

Under the party’s 10-year plan, Labour would invest in staff so the NHS had time to care; integrate care from home to hospital; give patients new rights to access care; end the “neglect” of mental health; prevent ill-health; and restore the right values to the NHS.

Mr Miliband said: “One of our country’s most precious institution faces its most perilous moment in a generation. The future of our NHS is at stake in this general election.

“We are the only party whose plans are fully funded, costed and based on the right principle that those with the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden. And we will use that money for a plan to train and hire more doctors, nurses, care-workers and midwives – so that they all have the one thing that patients need most: an NHS with time to care.”

In his speech, Andy Burnham said that false economies in social care had increased pressure on NHS funding with the number of avoidable hospital admissions rising last year to a record high of more than half a million - costing the NHS around £1 billion.

“I have long warned that, if social care in England is allowed to collapse, it will drag down the rest of the NHS. That is what is unfolding before us in the NHS right now and is a root cause of the crisis in A&E,” said Mr Burnham.

“We need an NHS that sees not just the immediate problem but treats the whole person. Our aspiration is to create a service that supports people with dementia, autism and mental ill health as well as it treats cancer.”

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “We know Ed Miliband says in private he needs to ‘weaponise’ the NHS for political gain. But he has no economic plan, and so would bring back economic chaos to Britain – putting our NHS at risk.

“Only by sticking to our long-term economic plan will we build a stronger economy, meaning a stronger NHS.”

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