Doctors fear that granny-dumping is blocking beds: BMA seeks inquiry over increase in number of frail elderly people left on NHS wards

EVIDENCE of 'granny-dumping' by families lacking the means to fund long-term nursing care of an elderly relative is to be investigated by the British Medical Association.

Doctors fear that the virtual disappearance of NHS elderly care beds over the past decade combined with a gradual tightening of social security rules has pitched many frail elderly people and their relatives into a middle-class poverty trap.

Strict limits on the amount of state support for care in private residential or nursing homes has led to the widespread 'bed-blocking' by elderly patients on acute NHS wards. Increasingly, hospitals are unable to discharge such patients because there is nowhere else for them to go. Relatives insist they can neither care for them at home nor meet the bills for private nursing home care.

Dr Alisdair Riddell, chairman of the BMA's community care working party, said yesterday there was 'no doubt' that the phenomenon of granny-dumping had spread from the US to Britain. The association hopes to shed light on the extent of the problem as part of a survey this autumn of 1,000 family doctors and hospital consultants on bed-blocking.

Already consultants in some parts of the country were having to turn a blind eye to Department of Health guidance barring doctors from allowing financial difficulties of patients and their relatives to influence decisions about the timing of discharge.

As a result, more seriously ill people are having to wait longer for a hospital bed. Under present rules, no one with an annual income or assets of pounds 8,000 or more is entitled to state support for places in private residential or nursing homes that can cost up to pounds 300 a week. 'The current limits are completely unrealistic - pounds 8,000 is a relatively little amount these days,' Dr Riddell said.

Dr Mac Armstrong, a member of the community care committee and chairman of the BMA's Scottish council, said a middle-class poverty trap was clearly emerging as a result of Government policy to target state support at the poorest: growing numbers of people who were above qualifying levels for state support, but were by no means rich, were experiencing financial hardship.

'The burden is falling increasingly on the very people who have funded the welfare state all their lives and thought it would provide for their basic needs from cradle to grave. Now they face the prospect of having their homes and pensions sequestered to pay for long-term care.'

Doctors debating community care at the BMA conference in Torquay repeatedly highlighted growing gaps in social service provision. Many applauded the principles underpinning the Government's community care policies, but accused ministers of not providing the necessary resources.

James Walsh, a GP and social services committee chairman of West Sussex council, said budgets for home helps and district nurses were failing to meet needs. 'Community care is becoming a synonym for cheap care.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test