An independent commission intended to drive improvements in urgent and emergency care for older people in hospitals and the community is being launched today.
The Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older People has been set up by the NHS Confederation, which represents health service managers.
It noted that hospital and community urgent care services were under “unprecedented pressure” and that new approaches were “vital” if older people were to receive optimum care.
The confederation said it hoped the commission would find “workable and patient-centred solutions” to address these challenges.
“We know that older people are not the problem here and deserve dignified care”
It quoted official figures showing there were 18.5 million attendances at accident and emergency departments, walk-in centres and minor injury units in England in 2013-14, with the percentage of attendances in the older age groups was consistently higher than in previous years.
The commission will be chaired by former trust chief executive Dr Mark Newbold and bring together leaders from hospitals, community services and local government, specialist clinicians, older people’s advocates and commissioners.
It will hold evidence sessions, consider best practice examples and produce interim findings before publishing final recommendations by the end of the year.
Dr Newbold said: “Much guidance on improving urgent care services for older people has already been issued, with key principles established and widely agreed, but progress on putting in place new services that require NHS organisations to work together has been slow.”
He said that the commission would aim to produce recommendations that were both clinically guided and supported by those working across all settings.
“Progress on putting in place new services that require NHS organisations to work together has been slow”
The commission will take a “practical look” at how urgent care can be improved by asking key questions such as what does the optimum urgent care service look like for older people and what new skills would be required from staff, said the confederation.
NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster said: “We know that older people are not the problem here and deserve dignified care.
“This commission will bring together all relevant parts of the system to examine the issues and look at workable ways for local health and social care organisations to work together in the interest of these patients, our staff and our organisations,” he said.