Doctors fear that granny-dumping is blocking beds: BMA seeks inquiry over increase in number of frail elderly people left on NHS wards
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.'
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
Isis executes three gay men by dangling them from top of 100ft building and letting go
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...