The Scottish Government aims to double the capacity of Hospital at Home services by the end of the year, thanks to £3.6m of additional funding announced today.
The scheme seeks to reduce hospital admissions for elderly people, instead providing them care in their own homes.
Treatments such as oxygen supply and intravenous drips, which are usually carried out in a hospital, can be delivered within the patient’s house.
Data published last week found that March recorded the worst monthly NHS waiting figures in Scotland since the SNP came to power in 2007.
Just 71.6% of people were seen within the four-hour target, a figure that stood at 96.6% at the time of the party’s election win 15 years ago.
It is hoped the expansion of Hospital at Home services can alleviate pressure on hospital beds, while also maintaining the independence of older people for longer.
The additional funding takes the government’s total investment in these services to £8.1m since 2020.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “From the success of the scheme so far, we can see that there is a real benefit to treating people at home where possible.
“We know that frail patients tend to occupy hospital beds for a longer period of time and that is why we are expanding the scheme. In reducing the number of prolonged hospital stays, we will free up more hospital beds.”
Government statistics say that those being treated under the service are more likely to avoid hospital admissions or care home stays for up to six months after a period of acute illness.
Dr Sarah Henderson, Consultant Geriatrician for NHS Forth Valley’s Hospital at Home Team, said: “We know from feedback how much local patients have valued being able to stay in familiar, comfortable surroundings without the anxiety and disruption often associated with an admission to hospital.
“This is also less stressful for family and friends who know that their loved one is getting all the medical care and attention they require at home.”
While welcoming the new funding, Shadow Health Secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane says the response from the government could have been quicker: “As a GP, I have seen first-hand the excellent work being carried out through the Hospital at Home Scheme.
“This additional funding is welcome and will hopefully alleviate pressure on my overwhelmed colleagues on the frontline in our health service, by freeing up hospital beds.
“However, given the current crisis in our NHS it is little wonder that this money was needed and could have come far sooner from the SNP’s Health Secretary.
“I will be continuing to monitor the scheme closely through my work as a GP to ensure this extra funding reaches those who require it.”