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NHS 'flying blind' on care of older adults

NHS 'flying blind' on care of older adults


There is no comprehensive way to measure the impact of social care cuts on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable older adults, a study has claimed, meaning the NHS is currently 'flying blind'. 

Released by Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation, the study found most local authorities are rationing social care for the over-65s, resulting in significant drops in the number of people receiving services like home-delivered meals and day care. 

And earlier this month, a report from the National Audit Office found that older people’s social care has experienced a 15% cut in real terms since the government’s deficit reduction programme started in 2010. 

Transfers of money from the NHS to adult social care have more than doubled since 2009/10, reaching £803 million in 2012/13, the Nuffield Trust have found. The report suggests that cuts to social care services would have been even more drastic if not for these transfers.

Other key findings from the report include:

 - Almost a quarter of a million (245,855) fewer older people received publicly funded community services in the financial year 2012/13 compared to 2009/10, a 26% drop.

 - Home and day care spending by councils fell by 23% (or £538 million) over the same period.

 - The number of older people receiving home-delivered meals has more than halved since 2009/10, falling by 59% (54,795 people). This is in response to a reduction in funding of 46% for meals over the period.

 - While the number of people receiving 10 or more hours of care and overnight care remained constant between 2009/10 and 2012/13, around 42% fewer people received lower-intensity care over the same period. This indicates that local authorities have responded to cuts by focusing on those most at need.

Holly Holder, report lead author and fellow in health policy at the Nuffield Trust, said: “Our analysis paints a picture of increased rationing of social care by hard-pressed local authorities in response to deep cuts from central government, despite the growing numbers of older people in the population.

“It is highly likely that this is having a negative effect on older people’s health and wellbeing and that of their carers, but without adequate data to assess this impact, the NHS and government are flying blind when it comes to managing demand and planning for the future.”


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