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DH drawing up 'older people's plan' for NHS


NHS bosses are creating a “vulnerable older people’s plan” to help alleviate the stress on accident and emergency wards, the health secretary has announced.

The “huge pressures” in A&E reflect other problems in the health service because accident and emergency is the barometer for the whole system, Jeremy Hunt said.

He told delegates at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool that while immediate actions have been taken, officials must look at the underlying causes of the strains.

He said officials have been told that they have a year to develop and put into place a plan of action to help the “heaviest users of the NHS”.

The plan will compromise three elements: the current review of emergency and urgent care which is being undertaken by NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the joining up of health and social care services, and making sure there are “good alternatives” to accident and emergency.

He said: “We have put in place some short-term measures which I think are going to make a difference - the ‘urgent care boards’ that NHS England has set up, giving hospitals a say in how money is actually spent to help prevent admissions.

“If we are really fundamentally going to look at these pressures, we are going to have to look at those underlying causes and address those as well.

“Which is why, together with NHS England, we are putting together a strategy focusing on the group of people who if we help, we can also do the most to relieve the pressure on A&E. And that is vulnerable older people, the people who are heaviest users of the NHS, people with multiple long-term conditions.

“We are putting together a vulnerable older people’s plan with three elements, and we would welcome your input to that plan, which we hope to conclude by the autumn and implement from April next year.

“The first is to look at what the emergency care proposition is and Sir Bruce Keogh is leading a review of that.

“Then we need to look at something else, that people in A&E constantly tell me is a problem, that hospital beds aren’t free.

“One hospital told me last week that two wards were full of people who actually could be discharged but they couldn’t because they couldn’t get into the social care system - the issue of integration of services. Looking at integration and making some real progress as to having joint commissioning of services.

“The third part of the review is making sure that we have good primary care alternatives to A&E where appropriate.”

NHS boss Sir David Nicholson said that the NHS’s interpretation of the Francis report into serious care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, combined with unseasonably bad weather, may have caused the poor performance in A&E waiting times earlier this year.


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Readers' comments (15)

  • I don't think I can remember any time in the past when you could not open any paper or periodical without encountering a discussion on the 'problem of older people'. Is it because I am getting older or is it really a problem now because we don't want to spend any of the NHS budget on them? Just remember that when the 'older' generation were younger at least one from nearly every family was a wage earner and tax payer. Those taxes made the NHS what it is today, or was until money became so rationed due to the wisdom of successive governments that hospitals began to close reducing services to some areas drastically. Add to that the difficulty some 'older' patients have securing GP appointments and it is obvious why there are so many emergency admissions within the elderly population. I care for babies on a daily basis but see no need for any section of the community to be denied the same level of care and commitment from our NHS. Health care for all is the basis the health care system, what has happened?

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  • it now appears Hunt is blaming the elderly for all of the problems in A&E and in healthcare overall!

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  • NHS bosses are creating a “vulnerable older people’s plan” to help alleviate the stress on accident and emergency wards, the health secretary has announced.

    I see the emphasis is on alleviating the stress on A&E (money), not how we care for our elderly population (people). I am getting older, having given 40 years+ service to the NHS, 45 years+ of paying (single person) tax to date, I gather that is not enough to guarantee I get cared for when I need it.

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  • B R | 9-Jun-2013 0:23 am

    from Anonymous | 7-Jun-2013 10:06 pm

    I totally agree with you. I now feel I must have been very arrogant just to assume I would receive the same very high level of care my colleagues and I consistently gave to all adults regardless of all ages. I had simply taken it for granted and put any worries about it to the back of my mind. this service had always been there and available for those who needed it. the only benefits I now appear to be able to derive from this is is the wonderful wealth of experience I acquired in a highly rewarding job where we had the resources and opportunities to do our very best and where poor care was not tolerated.

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  • tinkerbell

    sadly i have seen some appalling levels of so called care as a psyche nurse in what was known as 'geriatric wards', i am hopeful that all those who have seen excellent care are still seeing it. I see a mix and match of both now as i visit the elderly in the care homes.

    It is now much a case of profit before quality
    as the private sector has the majority of elderly care under their belts as far as 'community' is concerned and squueze as many customers into their confined spaces as they can without providing the staff to match. A profit before a person.

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  • tinkerbell

    I recently spoke to a private care home manager and said 'i am recommending you get more staff'.

    'Who are you recommending that to? she asked.

    'You' I replied. She said 'well it ain't gonna happen so who are you going to recommend it to now'.

    Silly woman, who does she think if that's her attitude towards discussing the issues raised by her staff to me. Unbelievable in light of everything that's going on.

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  • tinkerbell | 9-Jun-2013 3:52 pm

    as deputy matron and head of nursing (for a very short time) as I was the only trained nurse most of the time (and thus literally but unintentionally my own boss!) in a care home belonging to one of the UK's most highly reputed and largest insurance companies I was reprimand by matron one day because I told the patient's family we did not have a suitable room for him. She told me that there was a risk the family would take him away and we needed his room to be occupied to make it pay! This was my very first introduction to money coming before the safety and needs of the patient and a very rude awakening!

    the patient had dementia and his room was in a distant annex of an old country house where we were unable to keep him under observation and the family complained he was wandering. the home had steps in the labyrinth of long corridors and several dangerous staircases as well as a few exit doors including fire exits which obviously had to be kept open at all times.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 9-Jun-2013 5:37 pm

    you foolish girl to be thinking of the patient first and foremost where monies involved.

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  • tinkerbell | 9-Jun-2013 6:07 pm

    from Anonymous | 9-Jun-2013 5:37 pm


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  • tinkerbell

    i went out to buy a cherry tree today and they asked me if i wanted an ornamental one i said no a real one.

    My husband had to explain to me that an ornamental one is not one you put on the mantlepiece. I will have to go back and tell them i misunderstood.

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