Is this the future of healthcare? Somerset community classes cutting hospital admission

A group exercises together.

With the NHS winter crisis at its "worst ever" and with the costs of social care spiralling, one Somerset community may have hit on a solution.

Community connectors in Frome are helping to keep people out of hospital through exercise classes and social get togethers.

When the project was launched in 2014, in the January to March of that year there were 350 emergency admissions, but by the end of the three-year study, these had fallen by 17%.

Not only did the number of admissions fall, but so too did the cost, falling 21% over the period, while at the same time they rose 29% across Somerset.

"For every pound that's invested in this community scheme we are saving £6 for the NHS as a whole," Dr Helen Kingston from Frome Medical Practice explained.

Dr Helen Kingston said the programme has brought savings to the area. Credit: ITV News

She continued that the financial savings had been made through teams of nurses, doctors, mental health workers and social services meeting weekly to target individuals' needs.

While the statistics of the study still need to be verified, Frome has caught the attention of NHS England who described the programme as "really exciting".

Professor Nick Harding of NHS England said the results in Frome are 'really exciting'. Credit: ITV News

Professor Nick Harding continued: "They're taking local needs of local populations and working out what they've got locally to really help with that.

"Whether that's singing clubs, or one-to-one coaching for people and so where they're seeing that happen they're seeing some changes to people going to hospital that is really quite exciting."

While there is no simple pill for the issues facing health care, the successes experienced in Frome indicate that tackling illness and isolation with exercise and friendship could be a prescription we will all soon be given.