Buurtzorg in West Suffolk

The project is now gaining momentum and over the next month we will be attending meetings and events attended by nurses and other relevant professionals in West Suffolk to talk about the Test and Learn.

Why are we testing Buurtzorg in West Suffolk?

In its ‘State of Care 2015/16’ report the Care Quality Commission said social care had reached a tipping point due to the combination of a growing and increasingly ageing population and the challenging economic climate.

This has led to increased A&E admissions, delayed transfers, poor quality care and a failing social care marketplace where care providers are folding or being forced to hand back social care and care home contracts.

In 2013/14 £84m was spent on urgent care for the over-65 population in Suffolk. This amount is likely to grow by at least £12m-a-year over a five-year period due.

The financial pressure on our health and care systems is significant and will worsen if action is not taken.

With this in mind NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, Suffolk County Council, West Suffolk Hospital, Suffolk Community Healthcare and the East of England Local Government Association are currently looking at testing a Dutch community care model called Buurtzorg.

Buurtzorg advocates the use of highly qualified nurses to provide both nursing and personal care, which would normally be undertaken by less expensive care workers.

Although the early cost of using such skilled staff would be higher than under the present model, it would potentially bring significant cost saving benefits and service improvements in the long run by providing early detection of any problems, a reduction in longer term care needs and a reduction in hospital admissions.

With Buurtzorg the care package is focused on the patient’s holistic needs and enabling their independence. It is about shifting the emphasis from reactive care to prevention and self-care.

The benefits Buurtzorg has provided in the Netherlands include:

  • overhead costs of 8%, compared to a national average of 25%
  • lower staff turnover, lower sickness rates and high staff satisfaction
  • enticing nurse professionals back into the profession
  • per patient costs 40% less than the current national average
  • high patient satisfaction
  • half of all patients receiving care for less than three months
  • fewer hours of care in total, and
  • 30% fewer A&E visits for patients and a reduction in crisis episodes.

All this is not only beneficial to the system but better for the patient too.

The use of the Buurtzorg model yielded a 9million Euro profit in Holland in 2014. Accountants Ernst & Young estimate the Dutch social security bill could be slashed by 2billion Euros if all home care was provided in the same way as Buurtzorg. Given that 45 million hours of home care were provided across the Netherlands in 2010, the higher productivity level represented by Buurtzorg could potentially free up almost 7,000 full-time employees nationwide.

Here in Suffolk, as in many areas of the UK, there are workforce challenges within community nursing, and the needs of patients living at home are becoming more and more complex.

Along with the improved outcomes for patients, the project team partners believe Buurtzorg’s holistic way of working will be more attractive to nurses than the more fragmented health and care provision currently being provided. Continuity of care can have benefits for both patients and staff and is something that our service users and patients consistently feed back to us when asked.


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