At least 20% of the five million people in England who act as a carer for an elderly, disabled or sick person put in more than 50 hours a week, the NHS says.
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Provisional data from the health service’s Information Centre shows the rate of over-16s providing at least 50 hours of care each week has rocketed from 10% to 22% in nine years. Around half give more than 20 hours of their time a week and around one in three give at least 35 hours.
Almost half of all those known to provide care for someone - usually a spouse, partner or relative - are over 65.
The centre’s Tim Straughan said: “The report suggests that the majority of carers are female, most are from a white ethnic background and nearly half of those known to councils are aged 65 or over. Our figures also suggest many carers are spending 50 hours or more per week looking after the person they care for, who is most often a spouse, partner or relative.
“Social care is a broad and complex area in this country and these figures are important, as they help both social care professionals and the wider community understand the impact that caring has on our society.”