The Department of Health has this morning unveiled new plans to treat more patients needing dialysis or chemotherapy in their own homes, under the drive to create a more personalised and efficient National Health Service.

According to the DH, around 7,000 patients with kidney problems could benefit from receiving dialysis in the home, as it would enable them to fit treatment around their own daily routines and allow them to lead more ‘normal’ lifestyle as well as potentially lead to better blood pressure control and less reliance on medicines.

And patients benefits aside, the move will also help to reduce costly hospital admissions. In fact, the DH estimates that annual costs of home haemodialysis could be 25% less than that administered in hospital or a specialist centre, which is crucial given that the NHS is facing a financial crisis with real-term budget cuts estimated to hit £20 billion by 2013 and so needs to make efficiency savings where it can.

“The time has come for the NHS to make a decisive shift in providing more care out of hospitals and in the patient's community and home,” remarked health secretary Andy Burnham announcing the plans. “For too long, services have been organised to fit the convenience of the system. A great NHS will put the convenience of the patient first, and move services towards them where it is safe to do so”.

The DH has also published a guide for the NHS on developing chemotherapy services closer to home, which could also help improve patient experience and treatment outcomes, it claims. In addition, it says children and young people with acute or long-term conditions, or disability or palliative care needs, should also be able to spend less time in hospital and be treated at home or the community instead, where possible.

Care in the home can “achieve better results and save money” Burnham stressed, and he claimed: “By making NHS services truly people-centred and ensuring that patients have access to high quality, integrated and efficient community services, the NHS could save up to £2.7 billion a year – meaning a better service for patients, and a more productive service for taxpayers”.