In the UK, new intermediate care services have been established to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, facilitate effective discharge and prevent premature care home admissions. This paper reports findings from a national evaluation of intermediate care, focusing on the relationship between hospital services and intermediate care. Participants included key managers and practitioners involved in the planning, management and delivery of intermediate care in five case study sites. During the study, they identified a range of tensions between hospital services and intermediate care, including concerns about the role and involvement of acute clinicians; the safety, quality and appropriateness of intermediate care; access to and eligibility for intermediate care; a lack of understanding and awareness of intermediate care; and the risk of intermediate care being dominated by acute pressures. Although participants were able to identify several practical ways forward, resolving such fundamental tensions seems to require significant and long-term cultural change in the relationship between acute and intermediate care. Overall, this study raises questions about the extent to which intermediate care will be able to rebalance the current health and social care system and make a substantial contribution to tackling ongoing concerns about emergency hospital admissions and delayed transfers of care
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