NHS failing the elderly

Age UK has warned that too many elderly people are denied vital care due to NHS budget cuts.

In its annual report into social care, Age UK has warned a high percentage of elderly people are going without vital care and being placed at “significant risk” due to a tightening of NHS budgets.

The charity said the numbers from their latest report were “catastrophic”, claiming that less than 900,000 over-65s received help last year – a third less than the proportion of elderly who received help in 2005-6.

Only 13% of local authorities currently provide help to people with moderate needs, said Age UK, blaming the issue on the financial squeeze that has forced local councils to reduce budgets by 15% over the last three years.

“The figures we uncovered in this report are catastrophic”, said Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director. She warned that funding cuts were forcing elderly people to attend A&E departments because they couldn’t get the care they needed at home, adding further strain to other services in local areas.

While the government has plans to create a pooled £3.8bn budget to ease the pressure on elderly care and plan to cap care costs from 2016, Abrahams suggested that the changes would have little impact on an already massively underfunded system.

“Older people who need help now and are now not getting it are being placed at significant risk and families who care for loved ones are experiencing intolerable strain,” said Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said the care of elderly people remained a “priority” for the government but stressed that health and social services would need to “work differently” to cope with the increasing pressure on the system.

“We need to focus on keeping people well and living independently for as long as possible,” he said.