Tuesday, 19 October 2010
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.