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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Older dementia sufferers placing ‘unprecedented pressure’ on NHS

An increasing number of older people that are physically frail and often suffering with dementia are placing an unprecedented level of pressure on the NHS.

More older people need care ©Shutterstock
More older people need care ©Shutterstock

That is according to an annual report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which describes the future quality of the health service as “precarious” and “straining at the seams”.

The regulator estimates that one in eight older people are not receiving the help they need, reporting a falling number of beds in nursing homes, and insufficient local authority funding for adult social care.

“The future of the social care system is one of the greatest unresolved public policy issues of our time – a long-term sustainable solution is urgently required,” CQC chief executive, sir David Behan, said.

“As people’s health and care needs change and become more complex, a model of care designed for the 20th century is at full stretch and struggling to cope with 21st century problems.”

In acute hospitals, the report says this pressure has resulted in more people waiting over four hours in A&E, more planned operations cancelled, and people waiting longer for treatment.

It also reveals that 19% of adult social care services need to improve, along with 37% of NHS acute core services, 24% of mental health core services, and 6% of GP practices.

However, there is much that is encouraging in the report, with 78% of adult social care services rated as good on 31 July, compared with 71% at the same time last year.

In addition, 55% of NHS acute services were rated as good, along with 68% of mental health core services and 89% of GP practices, compared with 51%, 61% and 83% in 2016 respectively.

The CQC report also ranks 2% of adult social care services as outstanding, as well as 6% of NHS acute hospital and metal health core services, and 4% of GP practices, while many services previous deemed inadequate have improved.

Behan added: “The fact that the quality of care has been maintained in the toughest climate that most can remember is testament to the efforts of frontline staff, managers and leaders."

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