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.