Region in vanguard of landmark changes to NHS care

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The NHS in England is launching the first wave of a series of new “vanguard” projects to deliver better care.

Backed by a £200 million transformation fund, five initiatives have been given the go-ahead in Yorkshire including plans in the Harrogate area to bring together GP, hospital, community and mental health services.

In Calderdale and the Ossett area, projects to develop more community care have been approved, while plans to offer enhanced healthcare in care homes will go ahead in Wakefield and in Airedale, Bradford, Craven and Wharfedale, where latest technology will be used to get immediate access to expert diagnosis.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: “From Wakefield to Whitstable, and Yeovil to Harrogate, we’re going to see distinctive solutions to shared challenges, which the whole of the NHS will be able to learn from.”

Chris Ham, of the King’s Fund health think tank, said that change was “long overdue” but warned it would impose new strains. “Staff are working incredibly hard to deal with the day-to-day and now they are being offered the opportunity of re-inventing the NHS, That’s a very big ask of the NHS,” he said.

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “If redesigned services in these sites results in, for example, fewer unplanned hospital admissions, fewer hospital trips and more treatment in people’s homes, then that is good news for patients. The push to redesign services and better integrate health and social care needs to continue apace if we are to address significant challenges facing the health service and to secure a sustainable NHS.”

Officials in Wakefield said they hoped to “break the mould of loneliness and fragmented care” by joining up services for people in supported housing and care homes. Paula Bee, chief executive of Age UK Wakefield, said: “We know that in Wakefield last year around 20 per cent of people living in supported housing chose to go into care homes because they felt lonely. Our ambition is to work alongside colleagues in supported housing schemes and care homes to make sure older people have positive and fulfilled lives.”