NORTHUMBRIA Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is set to directly provide home care services across Northumberland, in what it says is a first for any NHS trust.

The trust already provides hospital and community services across the county and in North Tyneside and now also has plans to open its own care homes to meet "unmet demand".

The new domiciliary service is expected to employ up to 250 people as a recruitment drive gets underway for the first wave of 25 staff in a move aimed at freeing up hospital beds.

“Our colleagues in the care sector have worked as hard as our teams in the NHS during a period of unprecedented pressure through the Covid-19 pandemic and we thank them for their efforts", said Northumbria Healthcare chief executive Sir James Mackey.

“However, we know that there is unmet demand in our communities, which is unsurprising given the growing need nationally for more social care provision.

“Having effective social care services is vital to the entire health system because to allow the region’s hospitals to cope with the demand from new patients coming in, we need to be able to move on those patients who no longer need hospital care in order to free up beds.

“Through our new service, we can boost the system by adding further provision, ensuring that more people in need of home care can be allocated the support they need through the usual processes.

"As always, our focus will be on quality and making sure that these services are completely tailored to the needs of the people who use them, and also being first-class services to work in.”

The trust expects to have its home care offer up and running by March with care home provision to follow.