Extra funds allocated for hospital at home services

Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care

Further funding has been provided to hospital at home services in Scotland to support 156 extra virtual beds.

A total of £3.6m will be invested for 2023-24, which will take funding in the services to more than £10.7m since 2020, and increase patients managed through hospital at home by 50%.

Twenty-one health and social care partnerships will provide 312 beds across the country. This includes the development of services in remote and rural areas such as Highland, Western Isles and Scottish Borders.

‘Patients have spoken very positively about the service and it also reduces pressure on A&E and the Scottish Ambulance Service by avoiding admissions and accelerating discharge. Hospital beds will always be available to people who need them, but this is a better alternative for many,’ said health and social care secretary Michael Matheson.

A progress report by Healthcare Improvement Scotland showed a 68% rise in patients managed by hospital at home services – 7,369 supported between April and November 2022, compared to 4,374 during the same period the previous year.

Belinda Robertson, associate director of improvement, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: ‘More and more NHS boards and health and social care partnerships are embracing hospital at home by establishing and developing services. We will continue to support NHS boards and partnerships to further develop the services they provide, and share learning across all hospital at home services.’

Hospital at home services offer traditional homecare operators an opportunity to further diversify.

William Laing

In LaingBuisson’s latest Homecare and Supported Living UK market report, author William Laing said while most major homecare providers focus on traditional services, it was not difficult to envisage how the business model could change and expand into higher value services similar to the US homecare model, including qualified nursing and distribution of MedTech equipment.

‘It is also possible to envisage upskilled homecare providers winning contracts (or subcontracts) to deliver new NHS services, including a role in the major planned expansion of virtual wards as well as population health,’ he said.