A new study has revealed that the number of elderly people aged 85 and over needing 24-hour care is set to double, and that the care system is now at breaking point. Elsewhere in the news this week, a new treatment for severe asthma is set for wider NHS distribution, and NHS bosses are urging hospitals to send patients to private firms.
24-Hour Care Crisis
A new study, published by the Lancet Public Health Journal, has suggested that the number of people aged 85 and over needing 24-hour care is set to double. Meanwhile, the number of people aged 65 and over needing round-the-clock care is set to rise by a third.
The study analysed the projected health needs of England’s elderly population between 2015 and 2035, and highlighted the fact that the fastest growing demographic in the UK in those aged 86 and over. By 2035, the study suggests that there will be an increase of 1.5 million people in this demographic.
This means that it’s highly-likely that there will be more people developing long-term medical conditions, which in-turn requires complex care needs. The study suggest that the number of over-85’s requiring help throughout the day with tasks such as dressing, bathing and going to the toilet is estimated to almost double to 446,000 by 2035.
For those aged 65 and over, the study predicted that around a million people in this demographic will require 24-hour care. Find out more about this study on the BBC News website.
Wider distribution for Asthma Treatment
The NHS are to increase the availability of a new treatment for severe asthma by the end of the year. The treatment in question is known as bronchial thermoplasty, which melts away excess muscle tissue in the lungs. It does this by using radio frequency and it’s hoped that this will make breathing much easier.
Up until now there had been strict criteria about who was eligible to receive this treatment. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence have now agreed that it can be offered more routinely, after the treatment was proved to be safe and effective.
The treatment will still only be used if a patient’s symptoms cannot be adequately controlled with medication, and it is only suitable for children. Around 5.4 million people have asthma in the UK, with 200,000 people suffering from a severe form of the condition.
Some people may still not be able to receive this treatment because the final decision about whether to offer the procedure lies with local health bodies.
NHS Bosses Urging Hospitals to send Patients to Private Firms
NHS bosses are urging hospitals to send patients to private healthcare firms in an attempt to reduce the number of patients waiting for planned operations. The total number of patients in England on the waiting list – for procedures such as hip or knee replacements or cataract removals – rose to 4.3 million in June, the highest figure for a decade.
Hospitals across the country are currently struggling to treat 92% of patients within the supposed 18-week maximum waiting time, which is one of the NHS’s key performance targets. The suggestion for private care was included in a letter written to the Hospitals and Clinical Commissioning Groups. In the letter, NHS England’s national director said:
Where trusts determine that they will no longer be able to meet their activity and performance commitments in their board approved plan you should work with your trusts to determine how these gaps will be closed through use of capacity in other trusts and/or the independent sector. Any contingency plan for work carried out by other trusts or the independent sector should be available to mobilise by mid-September.” – Matthew Swindells
Learn more about the proposals on The Guardian.