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Nursing care for old 'cut by £125m'

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Cash-strapped local authorities are cutting nursing services for older people, research suggests.

Local authorities in England have cut the amount of money they spend on nursing care for the elderly by £125 million since 2011, data experts SSentif Intelligence said.

Despite the increasing number of pensioners, 144 out of 150 councils that provide social care services have reduced spending on nursing care for the elderly by 8%.

SSentif said some of the UK’s poorest areas had been hardest hit by the cuts, with areas such as Hull recording a 41% decrease in the amount spent on supporting older people in nursing care.

Meanwhile, Manchester and Liverpool reported drops of 23% and 20% respectively.

Judy Aldred, managing director of SSentif: “With public sector organisations facing budget cuts it is inevitable that those cuts will impact upon frontline services.

“However, what is worrying about this study is that these cuts seem to be impacting upon some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

“In addition, having less nursing support in the community for older people could result in higher hospital admission rates and readmission rates - creating higher costs to the public sector elsewhere.

“It is key that local authorities and the NHS review each others’ data in order to close the loop and ensure that adequate support is provided for older people.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “The cuts identified in this report are shocking. Especially at a time when thousands of often vulnerable individuals are not receiving the help they deserve.

“We want people to get the care they need in the community so they can stay at home for as long as they want.

“Today’s Care Quality Commission market report also shows that many older people are ending up in hospital with conditions which could have been treated with early intervention. It is a false economy to cut back on nursing staff, because this means patients have more complications and unnecessary hospital admissions.

“Local authorities need to reflect this in their budgeting decisions, and central government must make their pledge to protect the health service a reality.”

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