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New UK hospital care plan for elderly

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7169.1340a (Published 14 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1340
  1. John Warden, parliamentary correspondent
  1. BMJ

    New standards of care for older people are to be set for the NHS under a national framework to be in force by 2000, the health secretary, Frank Dobson, announced last week.

    The initiative follows an adverse report by the Health Advisory Service, which examined the care of older people in acute wards in 16 general hospitals throughout England. It recommended the development of national standards for quality of care to raise the priority given to older people.

    Mr Dobson stated that no older person in hospital should go without the fundamental care that contributes to recovery (to be helped to eat and drink; to lie in a clean, dry bed; and to be treated with respect) because staff are too busy or there are not enough sheets.

    All of these shortcomings were identified in the report, which highlighted long delays in admission of older people through accident and emergency departments, numerous deficiencies in the physical fabric of many wards, poor quality food, problems with privacy and dignity, lack of help in feeding, and poor management of continence problems.

    The inquiry was prompted by articles in the Observer newspaper in October 1997. At the time, Mr Dobson promised that the government was determined to discharge a “debt of honour” to the generation who had founded the welfare state and–through their taxes–had ensured that the NHS flourished.

    The national service framework setting care standards for older people will be ready by April 2000. Two years later, all trusts must have relevant training plans in place for most health professionals. Poor performers will have to improve or face intervention.

    Not Because They Are Old is available from the Health Advisory Service, 11 Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EE.


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