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Commission to improve urgent care for older people launched

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I am pleased to announce that an independent commission to drive improvements in urgent and emergency care for older people in and outside of hospitals has today (25 March) been launched by the NHS Confederation.

Workable and patient-centred solutions

The Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older People aims to find workable and patient-centred solutions to address the challenges of caring for the frail elderly across the country.

It is a joint initiative of the Confederation’s Community Health Services Forum, Hospitals Forum and Urgent and Emergency Care Forum.

Views, evidence and best practice

Chaired by Dr Mark Newbold, a former trust chief executive, the commission will bring together leaders from hospitals, community services and local government, specialist clinicians, older people’s advocates and commissioners. As OPAAL (UK) is the only national organisation continuously developing, supporting and promoting independent advocacy services for older people I look forward to becoming involved in this work.

It will hold evidence sessions, consider best practice examples and produce interim findings before publishing final recommendations by the end of the year. Workshops will also take place to help providers and commissioners implement the commission’s findings. A timetable of the panel’s work and outputs can be found on the commission’s web section.

Working differently and more closely

Hospital and community urgent care services are under unprecedented pressure and new approaches are vital if older people are to receive optimum care when they fall ill. To achieve this, it will be essential that existing organisations work differently and much more closely together.

“Much guidance on improving urgent care services for older people has already been issued, with key principles established and widely agreed, but progress on putting in place new services that require NHS organisations to work together has been slow,” commission chair Dr Mark Newbold said on Wednesday.

“By using the broad membership of the NHS Confederation, we can address the reasons for this and produce recommendations that are both clinically guided and supported by all parties in local health communities, including hospitals, local authorities, community providers and general practitioners. This will greatly assist with implementation of these vital services.”

Practical considerations

The commission will take a practical look at how urgent care services can be improved, by asking key questions such as:

  • What does the optimum urgent care service look like for older people?
  • Which services should change and how will they operate?
  • What new skills would be required from health and social care workforce?
  • What needs to change to ensure acute providers can provide safe and timely care to those who require it?
  • What is needed from other providers such as GP practices, community and social services?
  • Why has the shift from acute to wider community care been slow and variable and how can progress be facilitated in the future?

Commissioners will be made up of a range of NHS Confederation members and organisations including the Local Government Association, British Geriatrics Society, Age UK and Royal College of Physicians.

Delivering change

NHS Confederation chief executive, Rob Webster, said: “I am delighted that Mark is leading this work. His experience and wisdom, harnessed to the Confederation’s system leadership role, will be vital in helping our members deliver change.

“We know that older people are not the problem here and deserve dignified care. This commission will bring together all relevant parts of the system to examine the issues and look at workable ways for local health and social care organisations to work together in the interest of these patients, our staff and our organisations.”

Find out more

Find out more about the commission, the commissioners and how to get involved.


Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

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