Telecare's '£1.2bn savings' remain in doubt

DH claims that the NHS can save £1.2bn by using telehealth and telecare remain in doubt, as an expert says it is unclear how much of these savings GP commissioners would see.

Telecare plans are 'challenging'
Telecare plans are 'challenging'

The DH told GP it assumes at least two million telehealth users will save the NHS £70 to £543 each per year, mainly from fewer hospital admissions.

University of Hull telehealth expert David Barrett, who was shown the evidence, said rolling out enough telehealth devices to save this sum would be ‘exceptionally challenging’.

Increased demand for community care could use up many of the savings from a cut in hospital admissions, he said.

The DH initially refused to explain the calculations behind its claim, but an appeal by GP has forced it to publish evidence behind the prediction.

Telecare uses safety devices such as panic alarms, while telehealth tracks vital signs, such as BP. The DH wants three million patients to benefit from such devices by 2017.

Mr Barrett told GP that although there was ‘no doubt the DH sums add up’, the eventual scale of the savings remained unclear.

‘If we assume that a hospital admission costs about £2,000 and telemonitoring averts an admission, it has – in theory – ‘saved’ £2,000 for those who would pay the cost of the admission, usually the PCT or clinical commissioning group,’ he said. ‘Of course, it’s never as simple as this. Instead of being managed in hospital, the patient will probably require additional community input, so those costs will increase,’ he added.

‘However, I’m still confident averting admissions with telehealth will reduce overall costs.’

The DH originally blocked GP’s request for the evidence behind its savings claim, but published a summary of its calculations after an appeal. It said disclosing the full evidence would ‘be a prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs, given that the information sought is in statistical format’.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Walk-in GP services divert more patients from A&E but may not be cost-effective

Walk-in GP services divert more patients from A&E but may not be cost-effective

Convenient GP services can significantly reduce pressure on hospital A&E departments...

Practices face increasing risk of six-figure cash penalties, accountants warn

Practices face increasing risk of six-figure cash penalties, accountants warn

GP practices are increasingly likely to trigger six-figure financial penalties under...

Wide-ranging overhaul of GP bureaucracy promised amid spiralling practice workload

Wide-ranging overhaul of GP bureaucracy promised amid spiralling practice workload

Revalidation, referral processes, coding of patient data and letters required from...

Recognising and referring domestic violence and abuse

Recognising and referring domestic violence and abuse

A social enterprise is helping to train staff in GP practices to support women affected...

GPs 'in the dark' over pension tax trap support for this year

GPs 'in the dark' over pension tax trap support for this year

GPs remain in the dark over how a stop-gap offer from NHS England to pay off pension...

Network DES will cost GPs money and threaten independent contractor status, warn LMCs

Network DES will cost GPs money and threaten independent contractor status, warn LMCs

A group of LMCs has warned it 'cannot recommend' GPs sign up to revised plans for...