Why we need to change

NHS Somerset is committed to understanding the needs of the local population. This is to ensure we can continue to deliver the best possible healthcare services in Somerset.

Our health and social care services must adapt and we have an exciting opportunity to reshape and improve them for you and your family. We need to make sure the services we provide meet your needs today and the needs of your children and grandchildren in the future.

In 2018 we reviewed how we had used all the beds in our hospitals across our county. This showed that two thirds of the people who were cared for in those hospital beds could have been cared for elsewhere if alternative services had been in place – and last winter we did not use all our community hospital beds.

If you do not need to be cared for in a hospital bed then the evidence shows that it is not the best place for you. Over a third of people aged 70 and over experience a loss of independence and functioning during a stay in hospital, leaving them less able to take care of themselves.

We have begun to successfully develop alternative services. Our Rapid Response Service, which started in November 2018 and provides care in the community for frail elderly people, has supported more than 1,000 people to stay in their own homes in its first year.

Home First which supports patients to leave hospital either by providing care at home, in a residential or nursing home or in a community hospital bed, has helped 5,000 people to get home from hospital faster.

We have an opportunity to invest in more of these community services that promote independence, support you or your family members in your communities – at home or in a residential or nursing home – and to do this we will need to spend less money on community hospital bed-based care.

We also know from patient and carer feedback that people do not always know where best to go when they need urgent ‘same day’ help for something that is not a medical emergency – that requires you to go to A&E – but for which you need rapid support. We would like to provide ‘talk before you walk’ guidance to help you access the most appropriate service for your needs as close to home as practical.