Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Oldies Misbehaving

For obvious reasons I was interested in the Herald's headline yesterday morning: 'Emergency trips to hospital by pensioners up by 25%'.

The article questions whether the Scottish government's 'flagship free personal care policy' has helped frail elderly people avoid spells on NHS wards.  Note the use of 'frail' to describe anyone over 60 who is unfortunate enough to have to be an in patient (or a 'service user' as they're described these days).  For the sake of clarity for my readers out-with Scotland, the free personal care for the elderly policy was brought in by the last Scottish government, the labour/libdem coalition.  The SNP government agreed to continue with it when they won power in 2007.

The article continues giving the financial cost of personal care and how that has doubled in the first five years of the policy.

LibDem MSP Ross Finnie, who was a cabinet minister when the policy was introduced lodged a parliamentary question on the number of hospital admission among the over 60s, which revealed a 26% increase - from 570,424 in 2000 to 719,677 last year.  He's disappointed in the rise in hospital admissions and states: "We cannot possibly have a position where we are providing funding and resource to allow more people to be treated in the community and find we are still treating them in hospital."

With medical technology moving fast, surely politicians understand that anyone, not only the elderly, may have to have a short stay in hospital in order to have certain tests and procedures.  Not everything can be done safely on a day-patient basis and let's not forget the stated number will contain re-admissions; those who have been sent home too quickly.

The SNP Government are onto it though.  They're currently carrying our Reshaping Care for Older People, which is an engagement exercise asking Scots how they think care for older people should be provided in the future.  I emailed a dozen over-60 Scots yesterday to ask if any had been invited to comment on the Reshaping exercise and the answers were all negative.  Who are they asking?

Lindsay Scott, the spokesman for the charity Age Scotland, gave his reason for the increase.  It's nothing to do with improved medical care, or the early snows in November last year causing many falls and fractures, but, "Lifestyle choices, such as smoking, may be behind the rising requirement for hospital care among pensioners."
This Scottish blogger will be delighted with this news.

There we have it.  If they can't find a reason for a 26% rise then it must be these disgusting smokers.  They're responsible.  Always.  For everything.

Such a shame Mr Scott doesn't read the statistics that smoking has decreased in Scotland - particularly among the older generation.  None of my friends now smoke.  They tolerate my habit in the same way as I tolerate their constant munching of chocolate or sucking of mints.  I don't inflict my habit upon them and vice versa.

Again I ask why politicians don't just ban smoking outright. The answer is obvious.  Who else would they have to blame for using hospital beds and the multitude of other deficiencies within our healthcare system?  It's sure to be smokers who are responsible for the abundance, nay excess, for managers within the NHS, or, older people who are receiving free personal care at home are misbehaving and thus requiring hospital in-patient treatment.

Don't you sometimes think once the older generation have ended their usefulness to society, by contributing their taxes for their working lives, that it would be cheaper to build Twilight Hotels in the rural countryside and let them bore each other to death.  A pharmacy stocked with painkillers, sleeping pills and tranquillisers should be enough of a diet for them not to feel pain and therefore hospital stays would be obsolete.  Presently it seems they're a complete nuisance using hospital facilities when the taxpayer is funding their care at home. Really, they ought to stop misbehaving and start conforming. The boxes need to be ticked and they're upsetting the applecart.

The Reshaping exercise will have a solution though, never fear.


Joe Public said...

Dignitas are tendering for the contract to provide a 'Long Term Solution'.

Elaine said...

I think a clearer way of looking at it would be to say the latest figures are Actual and the previous figures were produced by Labour .

subrosa said...

So after the Reshaping comes the Long Term Solution Joe. :)

subrosa said...

That could well be Elaine. I just wondered how many admittances were due to falls in the snow/ice from November onwards.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, my father in Law is dying from Pancreatic cancer. The care he has been given has been excellent. He is 84 and also suffers from Parkinsons. He was in Hospital for 7 weeks while tests were done, which I felt was longer than required, but the care he has had since he got back home is first class. He has carers in 4 times daily along with district nurses, doctors etc. He has been given the loan of a hospital air bed which he now has in the lounge. He also has been given a adjustable chair by the hospice, who are also planning ahead for the time when he may have to go in with a day visit next week. Charities have stepped in and will send someone to sit overnight if required. We can all moan about the cost of the NHS, but believe me when they're rolling you into an operating theatre for life saving surgery, the cost is the last thing on your mind.

subrosa said...

I'm glad to hear he's being so well looked after DL and that's the way it should be. I've never heard any complaints around here either but I'm of the age when most of the older generation have gone and we're next.

I can't understand why the fuss about too many over 60s having to stay in hospital. Elaine may be right, the previous figures could be wrong.

I'm sure if your father-in-law required in house hospital treatment it would be given immediately. Home care won't reduce short stays too much if there's serious illness involved.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Has anyone noticed that there are more over-sixties in Scotland than ever before, and many more over-eighties?

I only ask because the quoted numbers all look like raw totals to me, why are they not looking at rates per 10,000 of population or whatever.

No doubt that is because those figures would not support the required conclusion.

subrosa said...

I think it's generally accepted that by 2013 (I think it is) there will be more over 60s WY. Baby boomers of course. The over 80s count is most probably due to better health care. Let's not forget antibiotics weren't around when they were born.

I looked for more detailed information but could find no verified data.

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