STRUCTURE: The board of NHS North Somerset has been asked to agree £1.14m of funding to roll out seven “community wards”.

A community ward is a term used to describe a team of health and social care professionals who support people with complex medical and social care needs within their own homes, including residential homes. The PCT has been trialling two community wards during the past six months. Of the 31 patients under the care of the first community ward as at 17 December, 41 per cent had a history of multiple admissions clocking up a total of 31 admissions between them in the past 18 months. The effectiveness of the community ward in keeping patients out of hospital will be fully evaluated when hospital admissions data is published in March.

An average hospital admission is costed at £1,200, so the community ward project will need to ensure it avoids three hospital admissions per week to cover the costs of the project, and six to gain 100 per cent return on the investment. In order to reach this target the Community Services Contract Service Specification for 2010/11 and 2011/12 states that each Community Ward will need to avoid 2 hospital admissions per week per Community Ward.