Keep patients out of 'dangerous' hospitals, say doctors

Image caption The Stafford scandal has raised doubts about hospital care

More patients should be treated in the community rather than in "dangerous" hospitals, according to the NHS Alliance.

The organisation, which represents doctors, nurses and managers on the front line, said there was an "immediate imperative" to shift non-urgent care away from hospitals.

The call came in a letter to the Times newspaper.

It follows concerns in the wake of the scandal at Stafford Hospital.

In the letter, the president of the NHS Alliance, Dr Chris Drinkwater, and its chairman, Dr Michael Dixon, wrote: "Hospitals can be dangerous places.

"If we are to put people before numbers and achieve high quality of care, as well as keeping an NHS free at the point of need for future generations, we must, as an immediate imperative, shift all non-urgent care from hospital into the community."

Dr Dixon added: "Unless we increase our investment in care in the community, the NHS will not remain sustainable and patients will continue to be cared for in the wrong place."

The organisation is submitting ideas to the NHS Commissioning Board, which will soon oversee the NHS as part of the changes to the health service in England.

It wants a high-profile GP to champion care in the community.

Ageing population

Rick Stern, NHS Alliance chief executive, said: "If the NHS is to survive and thrive it needs to change.

"We're categorically not suggesting further reform, but rather that everyone working to support patient care considers the importance of breaking down boundaries at every level - between clinicians and managers, between clinicians working in different specialist areas, between specialists and generalists, between primary care providers and the communities they serve, between in-hours and care out-of-hours."

A Department of Health representative said: "The vast majority of patients get excellent care, but If the NHS is to meet the needs of an ageing population, it needs to seriously look at how it can improve how care is being provided, particularly to older patients and those with long-term conditions.

"The NHS is already doing more to give patients better treatment - more patients are being sent home on the same day than ever before and the average length of stay has steadily come down over the last decade.

"We want the NHS to provide more preventative and integrated care, which will mean fewer patients need to be admitted to hospital."

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