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Failing to fund care will bankrupt the NHS and leave millions in misery

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Dr Ros Altman of Saga comments, “The government has commissioned an independent expert analysis of how to deal with the crisis in our social care system.  After recent scandalous headlines of elderly people being denied the care they need, forced to sell everything to pay for care, treated without dignity or left worrying about the security of their care home, surely we must all wake up to the real risks that face our ageing society. Latest figures today show that spending on social care has been falling, even while the numbers in need of care have been rising. With the number of older people set to rise markedly, this is another major scandal in the making.  There are already huge gaps in our adult social care budgets, with care now being denied to those with moderate needs and focused only on those with substantial or critical needs.  This means that nearly a million people who require care are not getting any funding for it.  Yet, by funding care now, we can save far more money in future on health spending.”

 

Altman continues, “Government has been in denial.  The private sector has not put any money aside for care at all.  Yet care costs tens of thousands of pounds that has to be found if needed. Where will the money come from?  Surely we need a new settlement, which explains to the public why care funding is so important, which allows the private sector to become involved in saving or insuring for care needs and which helps save unnecessary health spending in future.”

 

And she concludes, "In 1901 you could barely fill a football ground with the population of over-85s - there were just 61,000. In 2011 there are 1.5 million and in 20 years there will be 2.5million. Failing to fund care will have dire ramifications for the health service, and the economy.  Keeping an older person in a hospital bed costs £3000 a week, but caring for somebody outside hospital is under £1000 a week.  We have spent so much on health to keep people alive longer but we now need to ensure we increase resources for care, so the increasing numbers of older people can be properly looked after with dignity and preferably in their own home. If care funding is not addressed then the NHS will be overwhelmed.  As the population of older people soars, a new approach is desperately urgent. In recent years the NHS budget has grown but local authority care funding has been cut. It is crucial that more spending is directed towards prevention and intervention - 70% of emergency hospital admissions are down to over-65s who have had falls; such huge costs to the health service could be prevented by the provision of appropriate care and accommodation for older people. "

Long term care news: 1 July 2011

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