The government announcement that 1,000 GP surgeries will start offering appointments in the evenings and weekends is welcome news with the ‘heart of the plan’ offering a personalised service for the elderly.
Over 75,000 elderly patients are set to receive this benefit in a bid to reduce the pressure on already over-stretched A&E departments which saw the number of elderly people taken to hospital double in just five years – a problem Prestige Nursing + Care has recently emphasised. This new system seeks to reduce the number of beds being taken up with over-75s one of the fastest growing age groups of the population. Although critics have argued this should have been put in place years ago its swift implementation will ensure as many people as possible receive the support they need from now on.
Until now, the lack of accessible care at GP level has meant elderly people are forced to either attend A&E early on or wait until the problem intensifies at which point they have no choice but to go into hospital. The new changes could prove invaluable in ensuring people receive early treatment preventing minor ailments from getting worse by shifting care from hospital to home. The benefits of providing support early on, much like home care, can prevent people from going to hospital unnecessarily.
This comes at a time when there will be more than 6 million people aged over 75 by the end of the next decade, and the number of dementia cases is set to increase significantly. It marks a positive step forward but ultimately, more critical to the solution is the reduction of budget cuts that have left councils unable to provide social care where it is most needed. With better allocation home care can work alongside doctors and GPs to eliminate unnecessary hospital trips; reducing costs to the NHS, suffering to those requiring assistance, and allowing people to stay in their homes, comfortably, for longer.