Lib Dems have launched plans for a £2.5bn "Care Closer to Home" fund. It's designed to help people stay healthier for longer and avoid hospital admissions by investing in care for people in their own homes, GP surgeries, care homes and community clinics.
This £500 million a year plan will put into reality the vision of NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens which he outlined in his Five Year Forward View for the NHS.
It's clear to most of us by now that pressures on hospitals usually appear because of problems elsewhere in the health system. Elderly people can't be discharged from hospital because they don't have the appropriate care at home, or mums and dads are forced to take their children to A&E because the GP surgery is closed.
The fund will create a fairer society that will mean patients receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place, with them having more control over their treatment and support.
So what exactly will the fund invest in? Well, the Lib Dem plan includes:
Joined up organisations involving hospitals, GPs, mental health and community services. These will make it easier for patients to get the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
Better health care in care homes so older people do not need to go into hospital unnecessarily and can get discharged from hospital more easily
Better access to GP surgeries by getting GPs to work together in ‘federations’ to resource weekend surgery duty, having more surgeries nearer A&E departments, having more chemists next to surgeries, and additional appointments being made available via email and Skype.
GP surgeries working together to provide care traditionally given in hospitals such as X rays and other diagnostic tests and procedures, so people don’t have to travel into hospital.
More use of social prescribing so that people are helped to benefit from social activities like fishing or cookery clubs, or to do exercise or get access to nature.
Patients will get more control over their care with shared budgets for their health and care needs.
This radical 'bottom up' approach will build on the success the Liberal Democrats in government have already achieved on joining up health and care services.