NHS looks to be in good health

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There has been much discussion nationally about the future of our health services. All political parties are united in their intention to protect and nurture our National Health Service which has just celebrated its 65th birthday.

However, in order to do this we need to find ways to make our health services better and it is widely believed a more integrated health and social care system is the way forward.

With a report recently suggesting there are 5,000 hospital beds being used because there isn’t the right care support being offered at home, something needs to be done.

Milton Keynes is often a trailblazer and Age UK and MK Hospital have collaborated to provide an integrated service with the Take Home and Settle Scheme to tackle the problem.

They have been working to reduce the number of elderly people who are avoidably being admitted to hospital. The scheme has seen employees of Age UK based at the hospital to help patients in the A&E and wards to ensure they have the correct support to be sent home as quickly as possible. By offering both emotional and practical support they are able to help elderly and vulnerable people home earlier than they might have otherwise been able to. For example they can accompany patients home and make the home safe, can do the grocery shopping if they are unable to do so as they recuperate and even ensure friends, family members and neighbours are aware extra help may be needed. This all contributes to patients spending less time in hospital. Similar schemes are currently in operation in East Sussex and Blackpool and have seen hospitals make significant savings. I was so impressed with the scheme, I have asked the Department of Health to visit Milton Keynes to look at the scheme in operation. The partnership work between the two organisations is an example that should be replicated.

Age UK does invaluable work here in MK by supporting the elderly and vulnerable. I would encourage anyone who thinks the organisation might be of help to get in touch by visiting the Peartree Centre or by calling their local hotline on 0198 550 700.

> Mark Lancaster, 01908 686830; email officeofmarklancaster@parliament.uk