Older and complex patients will be able to access a range of qualified professionals such as nurses, physiotherapy and occupational therapy within two hours to provide the care they need to stay out of hospital.

Expert rapid response teams will help older people who have a very urgent care need to remain well at home under new NHS plans to reduce pressure on hospital services.

A two day standard will also apply for teams to put in place tailored packages of intermediate care, or reablement services, for individuals in their own homes, with the aim of restoring independence and confidence after a hospital stay.

Local health service and council teams will begin the roll out from April, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan backed by £14 million of investment.

Seven ‘accelerator’ sites will be the first to deliver the new standards for care, working together to standardise how urgent community services will be measured, and delivered consistently across the country, 365 days a year.

Putting community services front and centre

NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said: “The NHS working hand in glove in the community with council-funded social care services can be the difference between an older person or someone with long-term health needs spending a week or a month on a ward – or getting the right help early so they don’t need to go to hospital in the first place.

“That’s why as part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS we are putting community services front and centre, and backing them with a growing share of the NHS budget – and putting in place these new standards will give people and their families peace of mind about what they can expect from their local services when they need help most.”

NHS teams in seven parts of the country will begin working with their local authority counterparts on developing the services and recruiting staff from April, with the ambition that at least three areas will be fully up and running by next winter. They are:

  • Warrington Together (Cheshire and Merseyside STP);
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (Kirklees);
  • Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland system;
  • Cornwall system;
  • Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire system;
  • South East London system; and
  • Norfolk and Waveney system,

Further areas across England will receive extra funding to begin working to the new standards from 2021, with every part of the country covered by April 2023. This will be supported by an additional £4.5 billion a year for primary care and community services by 2023/24.

Matthew Winn, NHS Director of Community Health and Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust said: “For the first time in its 71-year history, NHS national plans prioritise community health services, providing a genuine opportunity to do something different when caring for people facing a health crisis at home."