Health services across North Kent are to receive over £4 million in cash boosts over the next two years to help improve home healthcare in local communities.

The newly announced Local Care programme will focus on improving care for older people who are frail and patients with complex health conditions to help them stay well and independent in their own homes in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley.

Approximately £4.2 million will be invested by the NHS into services across Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley over the coming years as part of the programme.

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Health bosses believe this new plan will avoid a number of patients being admitted to hospital unnecessarily and enable them to be discharged from hospital as soon as they are medically fit.

In total, there are six teams being set up by GPs across all three areas with an extended team of Community Navigators being introduced to help people access local services and community support as well as linking people to other specialist services including carers support, housing, benefits and activities within their local community.

This service has been jointly commissioned by NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group and Kent County Council.

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Housebound patients will now be visited by paramedic-led service so those in need can be seen earlier in the day, rather than having to wait for a visit from their GP.

The local Rapid Response service, which provides urgent specialist care at home for people living with a long term condition, is being extended to increase the number of patients it is able to support both within the community and those being discharged from hospital.

The service also provides timely intervention and support for those who have been discharged from hospital to regain their independence more quickly.

Speaking on the announcement, Dr Sarah MacDermott, Clinical Chair of Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group said: "The new local care programme is very exciting as it gives us an opportunity to work differently and bring about real and lasting improvements to local care for the people of Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley.

"No-one wants to be in hospital for longer than necessary, we know that people recover more quickly when they are at home, and we are committed to providing the best possible outcomes and experience for patients.

"It’s also a great example of how health and social care partners are working together to put patients at the heart of the service.”