Older people ‘hit by double whammy’

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Published: Wednesday 11th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Older people in society are being hit by a “double whammy” of cuts that are weakening the system for looking after them at home, a charity has said.

New figures released by Age UK reveal the consequences cuts to social care and health services are having on the elderly, hospitals and tax payers.

Over the past decade, spending on social care services for older people has decreased by more than a third from £8.1bn in 2005/06 to £5.46bn in 2014/15.

Community care services have been hit with a drop of 24.9% (£560m) since 2010/11, including transfers from the NHS to social care.

The charity says that within the NHS, primary and community care has taken a much bigger hit than hospitals.

Between 2009 and 2014 the number of GPs rose by 19.9%, whereas over the same period the number of hospital based doctors rose by 41%.

There was also a sharp drop in the number of community nurses, with a 27.5% decrease in district nurses. The number of community matrons fell from 1,552 to 1,287.

The number of nurse consultants in the community saw a 40.4% decrease from 235 to 140.

Age Concern says this means that at a time when the size of the older population is growing at an increasing rate, the system for keeping them fit and well at home has become much weaker.

Between 2007/08 and 2013/14 the numbers of people aged 65 and over attending A&E rose by 66% from 2,642,939 to 4,378,459.

There was also a 34.4% increase in the number of people aged 75 and over being readmitted to hospital within 28 days between 2005/06 and 2011/12.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: “Older people are being hit by a ‘double whammy’ of cuts to the community health and social care services many depend on to retain their independence.

“Far too often frail older people are without the help they need to stay well at home and end up having to go A&E instead.

“Others find themselves stranded in hospital because there aren’t enough social care and community health services to allow them to be safely discharged.

“But it doesn’t have to be like this. The solution is more investment in primary and community healthcare, and in social care, and we call on the Chancellor to commit to this in his Budget.”

Published: Wednesday 11th March 2015 by The News Editor

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