Ministers slated for care still being NHS burden

Emergency hospital admissions among over-65s cost �1.45 billion. Picture: AFP/Getty
Emergency hospital admissions among over-65s cost �1.45 billion. Picture: AFP/Getty
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NURSING leaders have claimed that ministers are failing to deliver on a key pledge to shift the balance of care from hospitals into the community.

The latest statistics revealed that the split of health and social care expenditure has remained the same over the last three years, with NHS care accounting for 72 per cent of spending and social care accounts making up 28 per cent.

The shift was a key pledge from the Scottish Government’s “2020 Vision” for the NHS, to reduce the amount of time the elderly or people with long-term conditions spend in 
hospital.

Figures released this week by the NHS revealed that £1.45 billion was spent on unplanned admissions by people aged over 65 to hospital in 2013/14 – around 30 per cent of the total health and social care spend. Theresa Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland, said: “While some of these cases will be genuine emergency admissions for things like strokes and falls, others could have been prevented if adequate care was in place at home and in 
communities.

“Plans for integration of health and social care across Scotland may go some way to address this but in a situation where demands on hospital care absorb much of any additional money that may enter the NHS, the new integration authorities will certainly have their work cut out in rebalancing services between hospitals and communities, or creating any meaningful shift of services to the 
community.

“The Scottish Government should take a whole-systems approach to ensure health and care services are sustainable and that care is genuinely designed around the needs of patients and the public, at home and in communities wherever possible.”

Bed blocking has fallen in recent months although the latest figures show that in the first quarter of 2015, more than 151,000 bed days were taken up by delayed discharge patients who are unable to go home because the right care is not in place.

The delay was branded as “astonishing” by Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont, who called for the matter to be addressed urgently.

He said: “The Scottish Government have spent a lot of time and effort on their integrated care strategy.

“It was an admirable policy, advocating more partnership working between the NHS and local authorities. It also highlighted the issue of patients being cared for at home instead of in a hospital setting.

“However, after three years, it’s quite astonishing to learn there has been no progress from the SNP on this issue. It’s also very concerning that out of the £4.8bn spent on health and social care last year, £1.45bn was spent on unplanned hospital admissions by people over 65.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The data published today will support plans which will focus on shifting the balance of care and enabling people to stay in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.”