Delivering better healthcare?

After months of political wrangling, the Health and Social Care Bill has finally made it to parliament. There has rightly been fierce scrutiny of this important piece of legislation – its implications will affect all of us at some time in our lives. For older people it is particularly important because they’re already the largest cohort of patients in the NHS and with the number of people aged 65 and over set to rise by 65 per cent in the next 25 years to almost 16.4 million, there will be a higher prevalence of people living with multiple long-term conditions and physical frailty. So, will the reforms deliver better healthcare for older people?

NHS ribbon lanyard
Photo: comedy_nose via Creative Commons

The overall vision for healthcare reform set out in the Health and Social Care Bill is one Age UK supports. Developing a much clearer focus on the outcomes the NHS achieves in terms of treatment and patient experience is a positive step. Increased emphasis on public health and prevention is equally welcome. Continue reading “Delivering better healthcare?”

Council funding cuts could make ‘bed-blocking’ worse

This article was originally posted on Left Foot Forward.

This week, the Guardian reported doctors warning that thousands of hospital patients in later life are being made to stay in hospital for longer than they need to, because of inadequate provision of residential care or care at home. In this survey of 502 doctors, 50 per cent reported that the ‘bed blocking’ situation was worse than a year ago. With significant cuts to council funding, it’s feared that next year’s results won’t be any better.

At Age UK, we’re saddened, but not surprised, by the figures collated by the Guardian and Doctors.net.uk. We’ve been consistently arguing that one of the many unpleasant outcomes of failing to invest in good-quality social care for older people, both at home and in residential care settings, is that people end up staying in hospital unnecessarily. Our ‘Don’t cut care’ campaign is calling on local councils up and down the country to use the additional funds allocated to maintain their care budgets and ensure that older people are able to access the care services they need. Continue reading “Council funding cuts could make ‘bed-blocking’ worse”

5 reasons NHS commissioning is failing late old age

On Tuesday the Health Select Committee inquiry on NHS commissioning heard from Age UK, alongside Mind, National Voices and the Patients’ Association. I was asked how the NHS could save £20 billion over the next four years, without harming healthcare. In my response I argued that savings on this scale would only be possible if we fundamentally change what and how the service commissions, in order to equip the NHS for an ageing nation. I set out five giant failings in NHS support for later life today: Continue reading “5 reasons NHS commissioning is failing late old age”

Ready, steady…. stop

This week, the NHS Alliance holds its annual conference, bringing together a legion of professionals working in primary care and the many people who want to speak to them. One group of professionals is likely to be particularly popular. GPs, who will soon be holding the NHS credit card, will not be short of networking opportunities.

Hip replacement: Photo - jilly andi via Flickr
Photo: Jilly Andi via Flickr

Given the expected budgetary pressures facing the NHS, the conference is perhaps unfortunately titled “The Cutting Edge”. This does, of course, focus the theme on innovation, but out in the real world we’ve started to see the clearest signs of PCTs starting to tighten their belts.

While there have been plenty of anecdotal reports of reductions in services and staff numbers, a second PCT has this week identified specific procedures and treatments it will no longer fund. The headline grabbing treatments would perhaps surprise some that the PCT ever funded them at all – the likes of tattoo removal or hair transplantation. It is debatable to what extent refusing to pay for the featured treatments would impact on a person’s overall health and capacity.

Continue reading “Ready, steady…. stop”