Nuffield Trust responds to Conservative pledges on care closer to home

Press release

Published: 01/06/2024

Commenting on the Conservative party’s plans to move care closer to people’s homes, Thea Stein, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust said:

“Moving care closer to people’s homes is absolutely the right aspiration if we are to move the NHS away from being a sickness service. We will only truly address the healthcare needs of people living longer, often with multiple health conditions if we invest in the kinds of services that support people to manage their healthcare needs. So an expansion of pharmacy first and more diagnostic centres is welcome.

“But let’s be under no illusion: these are small-scale proposals and they come after years of money flowing away from community services and towards hospitals. Our analysis published just this week showed that funding growth for acute hospital health services hugely outpaced growth in funding for services provided closer to home. Spending on community services – which covers health visiting, district nursing and school nursing – was cut in real terms in three out of the six years to 2022/23 - and spend per person fell by 4.2% when patient need is included.   

“Moving care closer to home should not be a “pick and mix” of different proposals, however laudable they might be individually. It’s about sustained, holistic investment in and support for a range of services that provide most of the healthcare in this country. It’s about building up these services to support people’s health and wellbeing in their own right, rather than simply to alleviate pressures on hospital. It’s about moving our collective gaze beyond the hospital, and matching that aspiration with the right funding and right priorities to make it work.”

Notes to editors

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