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

GMC tells BMA to name the doctors responsible for bullying and harassment

GMC tells BMA to name the doctors responsible for bullying and harassment

Senior BMA representatives could face investigation over harassment and bullying...

BMA sexism report backs overhaul to boost representation of women

BMA sexism report backs overhaul to boost representation of women

The BMA should use quotas and minimum thresholds for at least the next decade to...

Key recommendations from the BMA sexism investigation

Key recommendations from the BMA sexism investigation

A damning report into sexism at the BMA, conducted by top barrister Daphne Romney...

Medicines export ban widened as drug shortages continue

Medicines export ban widened as drug shortages continue

The government has added four medicines to the list of products wholesalers are banned...

Damning report on BMA sexism condemns 'failure of leadership'

Damning report on BMA sexism condemns 'failure of leadership'

Whistleblowers have spoken of feeling vindicated after a damning report condemned...

Flawed GP consultation data could distort access targets, BMA warns

Flawed GP consultation data could distort access targets, BMA warns

Flawed data on GP consultations could leave practices facing unfair access targets,...