The Prime Minister set out a major new investment in primary and community healthcare, worth £3.5 billion a year in real terms by 2023/4, which builds on the existing NHS budget for these services.
Theresa May has pledged to cut “needless” hospital admissions and help inpatients return home sooner.
Through community-based response teams made up of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists, the teams will provide urgent care and support as an alternative to hospital.
Mrs May said: “Too often people end up in hospital not because it’s the best place to meet their needs but because the support that would allow them to be treated or recover in their own home just isn’t available.
“Many of us might assume that hospital is the safest place to be – but in reality, many patients would be much better off being cared for in the community.”
According to the government, a third of people in hospital stay longer than they need to, often because they can’t get treatment close to home.
The announcement forms a key part of the Long Term Plan for the NHS which is the biggest ever cash boost for the health service.
“As well as the pressure it puts on the health service, staying in hospital can be bad for patients’ health. The evidence shows that for older people, ten days in a hospital bed leads to the equivalent of ten years of muscle ageing – risking their health and reducing their independence,” said the Prime Minister.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Everyone can see that to future-proof the NHS we need to radically redesign how primary and community health services work together.
“For community health services this means quick response to help people who don’t need to be in hospital, as well as dissolving the 70-year-old boundary between GP practices and community nursing.”