PLANS to invest in community care to help elderly people stay out of hospital have been welcomed by Wiltshire Council.

As part of this week’s announcement of the NHS 10-year plan, £4.5bn will be given to help local authorities work with health bodies to improve care for older people.

Cabinet member for adult social care Cllr Jerry Wickham said the funding boost for public health in the community, as well as hospitals, will help keep people healthier for longer.

“Public health is the responsibility of the local authority but central government has been cutting the grant for this area, so I’m very interested to hear what this extra funding is about. It is all well and good giving £20bn to the NHS but you need to look at the whole cycle. Once someone is ready to leave hospital there needs to be enough care workers to support them in their own homes. This is where we struggle, because we are left with a shortage of people to look after our older people coming out of hospital. We know people do better in their own homes than residential care.”

Cllr Wickham is chairman of the Sustainability Transformation Partnership, which works to improve the day to day health of the community.

The partnership is made up of BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire council, the three clinical commissioning groups and acute hospitals in the area and the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership.

He added: “The focus has been on balancing money, everything has been about the deficit and how to get back on budget so it hasn’t been addressing issues of prevention.

“Prevention is key to how we go forward as society in improving the health of our population, and if we get that right the demands will be reduced on the health service.

“We really welcome this funding and are excited that the NHS has finally woken up that prevention is not just their job but the responsibility of local authorities as well.”

The funding was announced as part of the NHS’s vision to save 500,000 lives by focussing on prevention with £20bn of extra cash by 2023.

Mental health services will also get an increase of £2.3bn of funding, that will see support in schools and 24 hour access to crisis care on the 111 service.