[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 3 Issue 2, September 2012].
A report from the Royal College of Physicians points out that the triple effect of rising demand, increasingly complex cases and falling bed numbers is causing problems for acute hospitals.
People now live longer, but they are increasingly developing complex long-term conditions such as dementia. Bed numbers have been reduced by a third during the past 25 years, while the number of emergency admissions is rising.
Despite the high cost of emergency hospitalisations and acute care bed use, the NHS has been slow to develop alternatives to emergency admissions in the community. Two-thirds of people admitted to hospital are over 65, with increasing numbers being frail and having a diagnosis of dementia. People over 85 account for 25% of “bed days”. Hospital buildings, services and staff are ill-equipped to care for elderly people having multiple, complex needs including dementia.
The report proposes that one solution may be to concentrate hospital services in fewer, larger sites which are able to provide excellent 24 hour care, seven days a week. Equally, improvements in community services are required, because many patients end up in hospital due to inadequate help closer to home. The RCP has identified ten priority areas for action to transform hospital care.
Read more: BBC News: Hospitals ‘on brink of collapse’.
Triggle, N. (2012). Hospitals ‘on brink of collapse’. London: BBC Health News, September 13th 2012.
Acute hospital services on ‘brink of collapse’ claim. London: NHS Choices, September 13th 2012.
Royal College of Physicians. Hospitals on the edge? The time for action. London: Royal College of Physicians (RCP), September 2012.