Health system ‘failing older patients’

The UK’s health and social care system is failing older patients as it is unable to cope with the increasing pressure from an ageing population with more complex needs, warns a new report from the British Medical Association (BMA).

Growing older in the UK highlights how reduced funding, increasing demand and inadequate resources is leaving older, vulnerable people to fend for themselves and increasing their risk of hospitalisation.

The report calls for various measures to improve support for older people’s health and wellbeing, including ‘social prescribing’ to tackle isolation; increased efforts to tackle under-diagnosis of mental health problems in older adults; a move towards a ‘care friendly health service’ and a focus on developing an environment in which older people are valued for their contributions to society.

Professor Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chair, commented: “The UK’s ageing population is being failed by a fragmented and over-stretched health and social care system. Far more needs to be done by the Government to support greater co-ordination and integration of health and social care services and to ensure that these services can cope with the growing needs of older patients.”

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