This is an interesting piece on how the UK Health System is failing to adapt to the growing needs of older people in Britain.
Hospitals to become ‘warehouses of old people’ as health service struggles to cope with ageing population, Labour warns.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham warned up to 40 per cent of hospital beds are taken by older people and the ageing population will mean the problem will only get worse. He called for the NHS, social care and mental health services to be merged to stop elderly people being put on a ‘fast track to care homes’.
But Mr Burnham says the NHS has failed to adapt to the increasingly old patients it treats. Councils, which are currently responsible for adult social care, are under pressure to keep council tax down so have ‘whittled away’ services. It’s financial madness, as well as being bad for people,’ Mr Burnham said in a speech to the King’s Fund as he launched a Labour policy review of health and social care.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham warned up to 40 per cent of hospital beds are taken by older people and the ageing population will mean the problem will only get worse.He called for the NHS, social care and mental health services to be merged to stop elderly people being put on a ‘fast track to care homes’.
If we leave things as they are, our district general hospitals will be like warehouses of older people – lined up on the wards because we failed to do something better for them. But it gets worse. Once they are there, they go downhill for lack of whole-person support and end up on a fast-track to care homes – costing them and us even more.
‘We could get much better results for people, and much more for the £104 billion we spend on the NHS and the £15 billion on social care, but only if we turn this system on its head.
‘We need incentives in the right place – keeping at home and out of hospitals
He claimed hospitals operate a ‘a 20th century production-line model’ which treats immediate problems like broken bones or the impact of a stroke without considering the ‘whole person’.
Staff in hospitals who used to rarely see a patient over the age of 80 have not changed to deal with ever greater numbers of very frail people in their 80s and 90s, with intensive physical, mental and social care needs.
Mr Burnham spoke of his distress in 2007 at being unable to fulfil a promise to his sister-in-law, who had breast cancer, that she would be able to die with care at home.
‘I told her I thought I would be able to organise homecare. But, after a day of phone calls, I will never forget having to going back to Claire and say it couldn’t be done.
‘And I was a minister who knew how the system worked, so what chance have families who are at a low ebb and don’t know where to start?’