Speaking at the annual NHS Confederation conference at Manchester Central, Simon Stevens and Ian Dalton, the Chief Executives of NHS England and NHS Improvement have committed to tackling an issue, which currently:
- Sees up to a fifth of hospital beds occupied for three weeks or more.
- Is linked to deterioration for those who are frail and may have dementia – a stay of more than 10 days leads to 10 years’ muscle ageing for people most at risk.
- Needs to be urgently addressed before the onset of next winter’s pressures.
Sally Copley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘For too long people with dementia have been pulled from pillar to post in our not-fit-for-purpose health and social care system. It’s great to see the Government sitting up and taking this issue seriously with an integrated approach, and more support for care home staff is definitely welcome. But the elephant in the room is social care funding, and this issue will never be fixed until that’s addressed.
‘Last winter we raised the issue that 1,400 people with dementia would be stranded in hospital beds on Christmas day with nowhere to go, because of a lack of social care in the community. To fix this we need to get to the root of the problem, and create a social care system capable not just of supporting people with dementia back into the community, but also helping them to remain there. 50,000 people were rushed to hospital last year because of avoidable conditions, like dehydration and infections, as a result of poor care.’