The National Audit Office (NAO) warns that families and the NHS are being placed under “unsustainable pressure” to plug the gap created by major cuts to care for elderly and disabled people. It found that spending on help for older people in England plunged by 12% in just two years, reports The Telegraph. This data is particularly worrying when considered against the statistics of our ageing UK population, with the number of people over the age of 85 growing at a faster rate than the overall population.
The NAO report concludes that “rising needs, reducing local authority spending, and reductions in benefits may be putting unsustainable pressure on informal carers and acute health services.” Further, it comments that “National and local government do not know whether the care and health systems can continue to absorb these cumulative pressures, and how long they can carry on doing so.”
Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, said: “This independent, authoritative report underlines the true scale of the crisis in care and reaches some potentially devastating conclusions, contrasting the uncertainty about how effective the Government’s policies will be for improving the quality and reach of social care with the daily reality of rising demand and falling council funding.”
Commenting on the NAO report, Lucie Prothero, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: “The NAO report lends support to Age UK’s analysis that social care funding is being squeezed to the extent that vulnerable elderly people are being put at considerable risk. This should raise alarm bells that rising demand and falling funding are putting the health and social care systems under intolerable pressure. It is clear that reducing funding in the social care sphere, risks adding to the expense of hospital admissions, thus deepening the wider financial crisis affecting the NHS. From our experience of dealing with numerous complaints regarding elderly care, we consider that health and social care services are in urgent need of additional funding in order to protect the elderly and vulnerable.”