Referrals to a service in Wiltshire that provides at-home urgent care rather than in-hospital treatment have doubled in the last year.

The number of patients in Wiltshire referred to the Urgent Community Response (UCR) team has risen from 589 in February 2023 to 1002 in January 2024.

This increase is part of a national initiative to prevent avoidable admissions into hospitals for people who could be treated at home.

While the UCR service is designed to provide a rapid response for issues such as health emergencies and falls, it works alongside the NHS@home service, which can deliver more advanced, specialist care inside a patient’s home.

The Wiltshire Council Health Select Committee was updated on these services at its latest meeting on Tuesday, February 27.

Councillors were told that these initiatives give people the choice to be treated in their homes if they prefer.

According to the evidence, patients who remain at home are five times less likely to acquire an infection and eight times less likely to have a decline in mobility and strength than patients on a ward.

The top UCR referrals are for urgent catheter and bowel care and for end-of-life pain relief for those who have chosen to die at home.

The data shows that only 1.6% of patients are admitted to hospital after being seen by this service.

The report presented to the committee indicated that the cost of a care package for live-in care at home is approximately £185, which is “significantly cheaper” than a hospital bed.

UCR also offers support in the event of an informal “carer breakdown.”

This refers to situations in which someone who cares for another person in their household becomes unwell and can no longer provide this care.

The service allows carers to concentrate on their own recovery without worrying about what will happen to those they care for in their absence.

On average, UCR receives 32 of such referrals each month in Wiltshire.

NHS@home currently have community specialist staffing to support 56 patients on any given day across the county and plans to increase to 90 over the next few months.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gorden King described the services as “absolutely the right way to go” and said they were “a long time coming.”