NHS resources could be directed at funding social care support for people leaving hospital, according to NHS guidance published today.
A revised NHS operating framework for 2010-11 said the government is planning changes to the way hospitals are paid for treatment from 2011-12 so that it covers reablement and post-discharge support.
This could see hospitals receiving money from health commissioners to fund domiciliary care, home adaptations and telecare, as well as community health services.
The 14-page Department of Health document said: “Such an approach creates real opportunities for acute providers to work with GPs and local authorities and would require the full engagement of the wider health and care economy before discharging patients.”
The announcement builds on health secretary Andrew Lansley’s announcement earlier this month that hospitals would have to fund community services to avoid costly readmissions.
As restated in the operating framework, this would involve hospitals being responsible for patients in the 30 days following discharge, which means they would not receive payment for treatments if people are readmitted within a month.
Jo Webber, deputy policy director for the NHS Confederation, said the ideas around the tariff and the 30-day discharge implicitly suggested movement of health resources to social care but said the details needed to be worked through.
She said: “You would expect that linkage of money from one to the other. It still needs quite a lot of work on it.”
Peter Hay, vice-president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said it was too early to say if it would mean health money being used to support social care, but it did mean a “very strong shift” in emphasis.
He added: “Clearly what’s being envisaged is something that deals with acute episodes and then hands back into community life.”