Community health services need similar levels of scrutiny as that given to hospitals if they are to succeed in helping people to live independently and provide high quality services, according to the King’s Fund.
The think-tank’s report Managing quality in community health care services, said the service providers were severely hampered by the absence of national indicators to help measure their performance.
This indicated a lack of data for services including community nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, language and speech therapy, with service quality and patient outcomes classed as ‘largely unknown at a national level’.
The report highlighted that these services occupy £10bn of the NHS budget.
The King’s Fund argued that this level of opacity ‘presents a serious risk that poor and declining quality cannot be quickly identified, particularly in a climate where providers are facing growing demand for their services and significant workforce challenges’.
The report demonstrated there is a dire need for focus and analysis on community health care services. The assistant director of policy at the King’s Fund stated:
‘If policy-makers and service leaders are serious about their ambition to deliver more care closer to home, the community sector urgently needs the same level of both support and scrutiny that the hospital sector receives.’
The report advised that national health bodies create a clear ‘road map’ and method of measuring quality and outcome of care and patients if they wish to improve and provide better services.