NHS is “full” owing to rise in emergency admissions and poor discharge procedures, report says

Intimidation of the elderly?

17 January 2013

The Nuffield Trust Report from 2010 on Trends in Emergency Admissions already revealed the fallacy of this conclusion, that somehow the over 65’s were using more than their fair share of hospital emergency care. After allowing for changes in the age structure of the population, the increase in emergency admissions was found highest in the 45 to 55 age group and in the under-1’s.

Successive reports and statements in the press are succeeding in intimidating our elderly population. Reluctant in any case “to bother” the doctor let alone the A&E department, our over 65’s are becoming the nation’s scapegoats.

The biggest rise in hospital admissions are in the “zero-day” and “one-day” admission categories. This now sounds almost counter-intuitive, as we have been conditioned to expect that the problem lies in hospitals being unable to discharge the over 65’s back to their homes.

Our worry should be for the elderly who are indeed being as promptly discharged as other age groups. They are left trying to cope in the community often without additional support, essential physiotherapy or nursing care due to the known shortages in staff levels.

Small wonder they are fearful of entering hospital, and fearful of leaving.

Competing interests: None declared

Lina J. Talbot, General medicine

Retired, Brighton, BN2

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