A PILOT scheme has shown that elderly patients treated at home rather than in hospital had better survival rates.

Patients in North Lanarkshire received care at home for minor heart attacks and conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia.

They were referred by GPs for home care from the Age Specialist Services Emergency Team (Asset) made up of doctors, nurses and other health workers.

The results of the pilot showed the mortality rate was 5.5% for patients treated at home, compared to 9.7% for those who were admitted to hospital.

Research shows that adverse health events can disproportionately affect the elderly. However, studies have shown they are more likely to recover in a familiar environment.

Almost 80% of the 200 patients in the pilot were able to be treated successfully at home, with some 23% admitted to hospital.

Other NHS boards are now trialling models similar to the Hospital at Home initiative, which was piloted by North Lanarkshire Partnership.

The team was made up of consultants, nurses, rehabilitation staff, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and a trained psychiatric nurse.

Nurses also provided pain control and treated patients who had suffered falls.

Patients were treated for an average of 4.5 days, with a daily caseload of 10 to 32 patients.

Although Asset was developed for patients over 75 years old, it will provide care to any adult who is considered frail.

Dr Jim Davie, consultant in medicine for older people, NHS Lanarkshire, said: "Most people do not want to be admitted to hospital. Older people who have physical illness and/or confusion are often happier at home and often recover better in their own environment.

"When a patient is referred to Asset, we aim to visit them within one hour to see if they can be cared for at home. A nurse will examine the patient, as well as carrying out tests such as a cardiograph and blood tests.

"So, when the consultant arrives 30 minutes later, they can study the test results and further examine the patient."

Dr Davie said there was also an agreement with North Lanarkshire Social Work Department that enabled patients to receive immediate additional home care if needed.

He said: "The conclusion from this initial clinical audit is that Asset provided a safe, person-centred and clinically effective service to frail older people."

Former health secretary Andrew Lansley has previously suggested doctors should admit only the most seriously ill elderly patients to hospital.