An overhaul of how healthcare is delivered in Bexley took big steps forward last night.

Bexley Care was launched in April last year by Bexley Council which joined up health and social care services under a new partnership.

It’s hoped that by combining services it will cut out bureaucracy and dozens of follow up appointments.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill said: “Anyone who needs help and care,  they don’t care where it comes from and they don’t care for numerous assessments at that stage. It will manage need in our borough.”

A business plan agreed unanimously to set out priorities for Bexley Care as it moves towards its full roll out.

Bexley Care would cut out hospital and GP visits by combining Oxleas NHS services with council led and social care.

Patients would be able to contact a single team of health workers, instead of having to travel to numerous different consultants.

The service would relieve pressure on the already strained NHS facilities such as Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

By combining services it could also bring costs down – with target of saving £6.6m by the end of next year, on top of investment in the project by the council.

It comes following a big increase since 2001 in the over 75s population in Bexley, which is predicted to rise 25,100 by 2031.

“Clearly, there are difficult financial pressures on the system, but we think not only can we deliver savings by stripping out duplications, but by aligning incentives, focus more on independence and reduce costs to the system,” said Tom Brown, a Service Director of Bexley Care.

Concerns over the amount of money in the scheme were raised by the opposition at a meeting last night.

Cllr Stef Borella, Labour, said: “There has been real term cuts to social care funding because of pressures of  the living wage and inflation of costs. That’s a real concern.

“There are a number of laudable aims – I certainly know these services do need to be there for everyone in the community – but a concern I have is the NHS real terms cut to funding.”

Cllr Brad Smith said the budget for Bexley’s adult services is set to increase by £8.7m annually by 2021, on top of other invesetments.

According to the business plan the service will be implemented in July.