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Community matron role failing?

15th November 2006

30062006_NurseBloodPressure1.jpgA scheme aimed at keeping the elderly out of hospital is failing, say experts.

The government-backed Evercare scheme was based on an American project and used specially-trained nurses to identify and monitor ‘at risk’ older people, including those with long-term chronic conditions and intervene to prevent hospital admissions. In the US, the scheme had cut admissions by up to 50 per cent.

But a study in the British Medical Journal said not only had it failed to reduce admissions, but also had no effect on death rates or length of stay.

But the government has defended the £4m project which ran from 2003 to 2005 and led to the introduction of 3,000 community matrons in 2004 to take over the role.

The researchers from the National Primary Care and Development Centre at the University of Manchester looked at emergency admission rates, death rates and bed days in Evercare pilot sites compared to other areas in the country and found no significant difference.

The researchers concluded that, while community matrons may be popular with patients, based on their findings, they are unlikely to reduce hospital admissions.

The company behind the pilots has defended the scheme and said the study was flawed, while the government said much had changed since the study was carried out.


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