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Social housing sector to save NHS - report

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Social housing sector to save NHS - report

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Health and also in Communities, Housing

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The social housing sector could play a key role in helping the NHS deal with the “twin threats” of budget squeezes and an ageing population, a think tank’s report has claimed.

The Smith Institute’s findings are to published at Westminster today following research released two weeks ago showing that joint work with the housing sector could save the NHS up to £6 billion over 25 years.

The report – ‘Housing associations and the NHS: new thinking, new partnerships’ - is based on interviews with over 50 key figures from the health and housing sectors, including hospital managers, housing chiefs and private sector developers.

It looks at how creative use of NHS land can not only help reduce the £30bn healthcare funding gap forecast to face the NHS by 2020/21 but at the same time deliver lasting public benefit and improve health outcomes for patients.

Reduced hospital admissions and more care in the community are essential to helping the NHS care for people with mental health problems as well as the growing number of older people with lasting health conditions, the Smith Institute said.

According to the report, both of these outcomes can be met through innovative ‘half way house’ supported housing facilities for people who don’t require hospitalisation but still need care and support.

NHS trusts are under pressure to sell off land to the highest bidder for one-off profit. The report says that this is short-sighted and shows how housing associations can work with NHS trusts to keep the land while providing cheaper healthcare facilities for the local community.

According to the report’s author, Denise Chevin (research fellow, Smith Institute): “We need to focus more on considering how NHS surplus land can be used to improve care pathways and take into account value to the community as well as sale value of NHS land on the open market. We also need a special fund to kick-start new housing-led healthcare schemes.”

Paul Hackett, director of the Smith Institute, said: “What ought to be a perfect marriage too often fails to get off the ground due to lack of understanding about what can be achieved and unnecessary red tape.”

Kevin Beirne, group director for housing care and support at One Housing Group, which runs Tile House, a supported housing project in London with Camden & Islington NHS Trust, said: “Our partnership project in London is clearly benefiting both purse strings and people. Instead of being confined to expensive hospital wards – and potentially blocking beds for those more in need – people at Tile House receive NHS-quality care in a setting that feels like home.

“People recover more quickly in this environment and get the care they need at a fraction of the cost of being in hospital.”

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