The NHS has announced new “expert rapid response teams” in order to help support older people to remain well at home and avoid hospital admissions.

New plans outlined by the health service say that the teams will be able to be on hand within two hours, as part of the NHS’ Long Term Plan to support England’s ageing population and those with complex needs.

Backed by £14 million of investment, local health service and council teams will begin the roll out of the services - dubbed “Urgent Community Response” teams - from April. The teams will give those who need it fast access to a range of qualified professionals who can address both their health and social care needs, including physiotherapy and occupational therapy, medication prescribing and reviews, and help with staying well fed and hydrated.

The NHS working “hand in glove” in the community, with “council-funded social care services can be the difference between an older person or someone with long-term health needs spending a week or a month on a ward,” explained NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens.

He continued, “That’s why as part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS we are putting community services front and centre, and backing them with a growing share of the NHS budget – and putting in place these new standards will give people and their families peace of mind about what they can expect from their local services when they need help most.”

Seven “accelerator” sites will pilot the service, the NHS says, working together to standardise how urgent community services will be measured, and delivered consistently across the country, 365 days a year.

Further areas across England will then receive extra funding to begin working to the new standards from 2021, with every part of the country covered by April 2023.