NHS will collapse if elderly bed blocking continues claims health minister
The NHS will collapse without decisive action to get more elderly people out of hospitals, Norman Lamb, the health minister, has warned. Mr Lamb, the care minister, said Britain’s system of health and social care is becoming “dysfunctional” and could “buckle under the pressure” unless radical changes are made to the way it operates.
He issued his warning amid growing concern that Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments and ambulance services are failing to cope, with rising numbers of patients forced to endure long waits.
Last week one of Britain’s most senior A&E doctors said units had begun to feel like “war zones” while the head of the NHS and social care watchdog said such services were “out of control”.
Regulators have also announced a review of the NHS funding system for which currently means that hospitals are paid to keep patients in hospital rather than discharging them to their homes or to care homes.
Mr Lamb said the NHS and social care system was under “huge pressure” from an ageing population, with high numbers suffering complex and chronic conditions and that tackling it was “the challenge of the 21st century”.
Mr Lamb said that addressing the funding system so that hospitals did not have a financial incentive to hang on to patients would be a priority.
“The hospital gets paid for a patient arriving in hospital but there is no incentive for them to leave,” he said.
Mr Lamb said the failure of health and social care to work together meant worse care for elderly people and wasted scarce resources.
The Lib Dem minister said: “At the moment the system is horribly fragmented and that means bad care – distress, crises occurring that could be avoided, massive disruption to people’s lives. If we carry on as we are the system will collapse.”
Mr Lamb’s warnings came as the government announced a review of services for elderly patients which could see elderly patients given their own personal NHS worker to oversee their care.
A single “named individual” would manage all care needs for elderly patients from arranging physiotherapy to home help and medical treatment.
The system of paying doctors by results will also be overhauled to focus on rewarding improvements in patients’ health rather than simply completing specified activities.
Tags: Accident and Emergency, Health Direct, Health Professionals, National Health Service, NHS, nhs cash shortages, nhs cutbacks, preventable crisis