Therapy services across Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland are set to be increased thanks to a £1.5million funding boost.
The substantial investment will see therapy services provided seven days a week from community hospitals and a higher level of treatment being delivered to patients in their own homes.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is recruiting an additional 35 therapy staff as well as providing existing staff with advanced training in specialist areas such as respiratory, stroke/neurology, complex musculoskeletal conditions and dementia.
This extended provision will minimise the amount of time patients need to spend in hospital as well as significantly reducing waiting times for patients requiring rehabilitation at home.
Currently patients have to wait up to four weeks for occupational therapy in the community and up to eight weeks for physiotherapy, but from 1 April all non-urgent patients should be seen within two weeks by the community therapy team.
The new way of working will also see a central point of contact created for referrals to ensure patients always go straight to the right therapist for their rehabilitation.
South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is investing in therapy services as part of its IMProVE (Integrated Management and Proactive Care for the Vulnerable and Elderly) programme which aims to treat more people in the community and to provide additional support to hospital patients to help them regain their independence.
Barbara Stoker, director of integrated therapies for South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “A review of local community therapy services in 2013 revealed that 60% of patients in our primary care hospitals would have benefitted from a higher level of occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
“This substantial investment means we are now able to provide this extended service for patients across Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland.
“This is fantastic news as it will help prevent avoidable hospital admissions, reduce admissions to care homes, shorten the amount of time people have to stay in hospital and increase the range of rehabilitation services we can provide closer to home.”
Dr Ali Tahmassebi, local GP and member of South Tees CCG added: “It’s great to see our IMProVE plans coming to fruition. This is another important step in supporting patients to remain independent.”