Health

Elderly patients to be assigned named clinician

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Media captionJeremy Hunt: We're asking NHS England to ensure there is a named clinician responsible for every vulnerable older person

Elderly people in England are to have a named clinician responsible for their care when they leave hospital, the health secretary has said.

The initiative was unveiled at an event to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the National Health Service.

Mr Hunt says it will to help create a "more personal service".

But Labour have said the NHS' anniversary is overshadowed by a "real sense of worry about where the NHS is heading".

'Wrong path'

At an event at Guy's Hospital in London, Mr Hunt proposed that a named doctor or nurse would be responsible for vulnerable patients "at all times".

He said: "As we celebrate, we also reflect. The world today is very different to 1948. The old model was curable illnesses where you went into hospital unwell and came out better.

"Yet most people now leave hospital with long-term conditions which need to be supported and managed at home.

"So the challenge today is to provide integrated, co-ordinated, out of hospital care. Something where the NHS, with our tradition of family doctors and primary care, could lead the world.

"But to do that we need to know that there is a clinician accountable for vulnerable older people in the community, just as there is a consultant responsible for them in hospital...

"They should be named so that patients, families and carers all know where the buck stops."

Mr Hunt said the eight million people with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease "need radically different models of care to what the NHS has been accustomed to" and could benefit from the plan.

The "named clinician" proposal is part of a consultation being launched on an updated "NHS Mandate".

Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: "Dealing with rising numbers of older people in need of care is a challenge across the NHS, and the infrastructure of the service must reflect that need.

"It is vital that the named clinicians in this role have the capacity and the organisational support to join up services so that patients experience a seamless journey from home to hospital and back again."

And Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Having a named clinician responsible for the care of vulnerable individuals has the potential to transform the experience people with dementia have of health and social care.

"However, it's crucial that the doctors and nurses who are assigned are accessible, understand dementia and how to provide the best care for people with the condition."

Digital records

The health secretary also launched a new organisation, Genomics England, to map the DNA of 100,000 patients with cancer and rare diseases.

Mr Hunt said: "If we really want this to be the century of personalised care, then we must radically improve our understanding of disease and how to design treatments better tailored to individual patients.

"Combine the information from genomes with the information in digital medical records - all done with proper consent - and you have the most remarkable treasure trove about the make-up of diseases with huge clues as to how to treat them."

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the NHS anniversary was being overshadowed by "a real sense of worry about where the NHS is heading under David Cameron".

"Patients and staff have precious little faith that the NHS is safe in this government's hands," he said.

"Cameron's reorganisation has put the NHS on the wrong path - a fast-track to fragmentation and privatisation."

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