HEALTH officials in Darlington have been given an insight into the revolution sweeping through the NHS in an attempt to improve patient care.

Work is under way to attract a new breed of health worker who can provide care for the town's 102,000 population in their homes rather than in hospital.

Chairman of the Tees Valley and Durham Primary Care College professor Nigel Oswald told staff about proposed changes for the profession at a training session hosted by Darlington Primary Care Trust.

He said the new way of thinking involved a holistic approach to medicine that would link doctors, nurses, administrative and clerical staff, pharmacists and dentists.

Prof Oswald, who is also a GP, said: "There are going to be different types of professionals working across traditional boundaries and the whole point is to improve patient care.

"We know the best place for a lot of health care to be delivered is in the community.

"People are much better off in their own homes and it is more satisfying to look after them there."

With the movement of care in the community, there would also be more work alongside the voluntary sector. GPs may have to compete in the future with other organisations to provide services, he said.

"We need to be smarter in how we provide our services."

He said a larger workforce would be required and more people needed to be encouraged into the health profession.

Darlington PCT's nurse development facilitator, Win Suggett, said: "There are massive opportunities, particularly for nurses, in the future.

"It's an exciting time and one full of new challenges that can be met through collaborative working."