Are Hospitals on the Edge?

Are Hospitals on the Edge?

From the U.K., two major studies were done on the NHS’s countrywide network of hospitals.  Here are brief, aging-specific synopses on the question – Are Hospitals on the Edge:

First, from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) of London, the report Hospitals on the Edge? The Time for Action indicates that, “All too often, hospital buildings, services, and staff are not equipped to care for elderly people who have multiple, complex needs including dementia”—a real problem, since “nearly two-thirds of people admitted to hospital are over 65…while people over 85 now account for 25 percent of ‘bed days.’”

Moreover, a significant concern is “lack of continuity of care,” with patients often being moved “four or five times during a hospital stay…[which] particularly affects elderly patients being moved to outlying wards during the night.”  The RCP attributes much of the increasing pressure on the nation’s hospitals directly to national demographics, saying that in Britain, “There are 12 million more people now than [in 1948], and life expectancy at birth is around 12 years longer, while people aged 60 or over make up a quarter of [the] population.”

Five key pressures facing hospital acute services:

Increasing demand – there are one-third fewer acute beds than there were 25 years ago, but the past decade alone has seen a 37% increase in emergency admissions and a 65% increase in hospital stays for those over 75.

Changing patients, changing needs – close to two-thirds of people admitted to hospital are over 65 and an increasing number are frail or have a diagnosis of dementia, while people over 85 now account for 25% of “bed days”, the RCP report finds.

Fractured care – lack of continuity of care is greatest concern – it is common for patients to be moved four or five times during a hospital stay, and this particularly affects elderly patients being moved to outlying wards during the night.

Out of hours care breakdown – admissions at weekends are around a quarter lower than during the rest of the week and there is a fall in the number of procedures performed on Saturdays and Sundays. Patients who need care are being “pushed” into the following week. The report says research suggests mortality is often 10% higher among patients admitted at weekends, when less experienced doctors are on site.

Looming crisis in the medical workforce – reduced working hours of junior doctors imposed by the government as well as EU directives, has seen many specialties move to shift pattern working, which potentially has a negative effect on patient care.

Read the full article: Acute Hospital Services.

Home Care Hamilton helping older adults and elderly live independently and safely at home.
Please call 905 521-5500.

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