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Burnham: hospitals outdated for ageing patient

NHS hospitals are designed for the needs of the previous century and are in danger of being of being overwhelmed by the needs of older patients, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has warned.

Mr Burnham said these reasons were at the “crux” of the problem why stories of older patients being neglected or abused were recurring with “ever grater frequency”.

He said his “penny drop” moment came after speaking to a sister at the Royal Derby Hospital, who told him wards were no longer designed to deal with the complexity of the “demographic challenges of this century”.

Mr Burnham said: “’It was not that nurses didn’t care anymore’, she said. ‘On the whole, they did. It was more that wards today are simply not staffed to deal with the complexity of what the ageing society is bringing to them’.

“’Hospitals hadn’t changed to reflect this new reality’, she said, ‘and nurses were struggling to cope with it’,” Mr Burnham added.

He was speaking last week at the launch of the Labour Party’s new policy for health and social care, which would see far greater integration between the NHS and local councils.

Should Labour be returned to power at the next election, it would combine health and social care spending to create a £120bn single budget focusing on caring for older people in the most appropriate space.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Care of elderly patients have always been the 'poor relations' when it comes to staffing levels. People with long-term conditions are bound to increase with us living longer. It needs addressing before we get to crisis levels, not to close the door after the horse has bolted.

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  • Bruce Keogh is the Chief Medical Officer and a surgeon, and is leading a national review of emergency care. But it's all very medical. It would be wonderful to have something led by nurse for a change, because it would be far more patient centred. So what practical things would help? Community or home IV, more specialist DNs/ matrons, home nebulisers, better equipment services, social care centred around practices, using risk stratification to work out case loads.....
    The answer lies in nursing and this work would make a much bigger difference than the 6Cs.

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  • "NHS hospitals are designed for the needs of the previous century ..."

    and the previous one before that.
    British hospitals and they way they are run are a total disgrace for a western G8 country and falling behind those of many other countries. it is time the whole health service was dismantled and updated to meet the actual needs of patients and the health of the population rather than being used to fulfil the self serving needs of those running them. They must open their eyes to identify real needs in the real big wide world needs of living in their closed little dream nest in cloud cuckoo land.

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  • Not rocket science Andy I'm afraid. Yes we need more staff on the wards and in the community. Unfortunately we need them now, not after the next election, when no doubt you'll discover there 's a reason why you can't carry out your promises

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  • Was the NHS any better under labour? I seem to recall a few problems when they were in charge. The Tories hate the NHS, but at least we know that. Labour are more devious, but equally destructive.

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