A pilot programme for improving care of older patients has slashed hospital overnight stays and accident and emergency attendances, and produced significant financial savings.

The Partnerships for Older People Projects - a series of 29 local authority-led pilot schemes - have treated more than 250,000 older people since they were set up in 2005.

A report published this week by the Department of Health said the pilot had led to overnight hospital stays being reduced by 47 per cent, use of A&E departments cut by 29 per cent, and the cost of physiotherapy and occupational therapy being reduced by more than £2,000 per person per year.

One fifth of the projects were funded solely by primary care trusts, and PCTs contributed at least half the funding for a further 14 per cent of projects.

NHS Confederation deputy policy director Jo Webber said: “In terms of having an evidence base for the prevention of ill health among older people, this is important work.”

She said the challenge now was to ensure funding mechanisms rewarded partners in such schemes who paid for the work.