Letter: Elderly struggle to cope after hospital discharge

Much has been said of late about old people living longer than ever before, and coupled with other things, the need to improve Care in the Community, presumably to look after our ageing population in their homes; and taking the weight off hospitals by the provision of health centres where minor procedures can be carried out.

However, while personally having no complaints about treatment or time spent in hospitals, there does at times seem to be a puzzling urgency in discharging older patients, some of whom are obviously unable to look after themselves; and one has to wonder and worry how they manage to cope.

Another problem can be the times they are sent home, or moved, often late at night.

A Government spokesman yesterday said that keeping a patient in a hospital bed comes at a cost of £2,300 a week, but the cost of residential care is £700.

He did however forget to mention that the latter situation would likely result in the patient having to pay his or her own costs, while treatment in hospital ostensibly is free.

In effect therefore one is bound to assume that the whole business is one of cost saving.

Another consideration also ignored is not just that people are living longer but, with an ever increasing population and high immigration, there is bound to be a need for more hospital beds for those of any age.

While he also concluded that there is a constant shortage of NHS beds, the authority itself declared that at any one time there is a surplus of around 20,000 beds available, thus refusing to accept that there is any real shortage.

Whatever the improvements to Care in the Community might be, if they come to fruition, it is however certain that as things are now, many old people are not receiving the support they need to make their last years bearable; and to be in fear of being admitted to a care home at the prices they charge is not the best way to spend them.

Readers with elderly family will undoubtedly draw their own conclusions.

E Lundy, by email




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