• Government to set up “dedicated team” to support the NHS in recovering services
  • Will seek “innovative operating models” for health and care services

The government said it will set up ‘dedicated team’ to look for innovative ways for the NHS to continue treating people for coronavirus, while also providing care for non-covid health issues.

In its pandemic recovery strategy published today, the government also said step-down and community care will be “bolstered” to support earlier discharge from acute hospitals.

The 60-page document contained little new information about plans for NHS services, but said: “The government will seek innovative operating models for the UK’s health and care settings, to strengthen them for the long term and make them safer for patients and staff in a world where covid-19 continues to be a risk.

“For example, this might include using more tele-medicine and remote monitoring to give patients hospital-level care from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

“Capacity in community care and step-down services will also be bolstered, to help ensure patients can be discharged from acute hospitals at the right time for them.

“To this end, the government will establish a dedicated team to see how the NHS and health infrastructure can be supported for the covid-19 recovery process and thereafter.

HSJ has asked the Cabinet Office for more information about who will form, and lead, the new team.

This could be seen within the NHS as an important signal of ministers’ commitment to improve the health sector’s physical and technological infrastructure, as well as recognition of the need to increase capacity in areas such as critical care.

Infrastructure improvements were a key element of the government’s approach to the NHS prior to the virus outbreak. The document said the government was still committed to meeting the pledge to build 40 new hospitals.

On social care, the document said the “number one priority for adult social care is infection control during the covid-19 pandemic” and that by 6 June “every care home will have been offered testing for residents and staff”.

It also announced today that every care home will have a named clinician drawn from multidisciplinary teams set up by GPs and community health providers as part of the enhanced health in care homes service, which was announced last week.

The government has also pledged to “invest in preventative and personalised solutions to ill-health” by enabling people to walk and cycle more, and “expanding health screening services, especially through the NHS Health Check programme, which is currently under review”.