The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has pledged that the NHS “basic model” is to change to provide better support in the community for vulnerable patients as part of plans to ease the pressures facing hospitals. The NHS Better Care Fund aims to build an “army” of 18,000 community workers who will be available seven days a week to work alongside NHS staff such as nurses and physiotherapists.

These workers will be deployed to the new schemes as part of a new joint effort by the NHS and local authorities to reduce admissions to hospitals and care homes. A total of £5 billion will be invested in 151 plans across the country to prevent 2,000 elderly people from being admitted to care homes when they could stay at home with right help. It also aims to prevent more than 160,000 admissions each year to A&E units.

A recent report undertaken by the King’s Fund think tank, covering the period from June to September 2014, shows that 12.1% of patients waited more than 18 weeks for routine operations such as hip and knee replacements. This is the highest percentage since 2008. The report also revealed that 5% of patients were spending four or more hours in A&E – the highest level at this time of year for a decade.