Dame Angela Watkinson calls for review of funding for community care in Havering

Angela Watkinson MP

Angela Watkinson MP - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Havering’s ageing population has prompted MP Dame Angela Watkinson to call for a change in how NHS funding is allocated to ease pressure on hospital services.

Speaking in parliament last week the Conservative MP asked health secretary Jeremy Hunt if he would agree to “look at the balance of future funding between acute care and community health care”.

She has said that increasing funding for community health care would mean that “elderly people can be supported at home and beds freed up for people waiting for acute operations”.

Havering has the highest proportion of older people of any London borough and the average age in the elderly wards of Queen’s Hospital in Rom Valley Way, Romford, is 86.

Dame Angela, who represents Hornchurch and Upminster, said: “Once admitted to hospital, older patients lose their independence very quickly.

“[Improved community care] would benefit older people themselves to be supported in their own homes, in their familiar surrounding.”

Responding to Dame Angela’s question Mr Hunt acknowledged the issue and added “improving community care is at the heart of the government’s strategy to reduce pressure on hospitals”.

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Cllr Steven Kelly, chairman of Havering’s health and wellbeing board, said: “I agree with her.

“There needs to be a move away from the care in the bigger hospitals as there are so many things that can be looked at in the home and there needs to be a genuine increase of money for the care of people.”

Both Havering Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) have been acting to improve care in the community for the elderly.

CCG chairman, Dr Atul Aggarwal, said: “Our CCG recently decided to permanently establish the community treatment team.

“They have seen more than 10,000 people in their own homes in the past year compared with 1,300 who would have been seen with traditional bed-based services only.”

Additionally BHRUT has extended their elders’ receiving unit with specialist staff and the joint assessment and discharge service is ensuring patients are able to return home as soon as they are well enough.