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GP contract blamed for rising elderly 999 trips, NHS payoffs condemned and evidence short man syndrome may exist

Our round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 29 January

The number of ambulance trips by the very elderly has risen by 81% in the past three years, show figures reported by the BBC this morning. The figures show 999 trips to A&Es rose by 11% over the period to just under 4.4 million, but by far the largest rise was in the eldest age group, the analysis from the Labour Party shows.

But health secretary Jeremy Hunt blamed the rise on Labour’s ‘disastrous 2004 GP contract’. He said: ‘It’s rank hypocrisy for them now to complain about the consequences of their historic mistake.

We have ripped up that contract and are bringing back proper family doctoring, with named GPs for older people to help relieve A&E pressures.’

The NHS is also under fire (when isn’t it?) in the Telegraph for six-figure pay-offs given to managers who then subsequently came back to work for the health service. There is no suggestion that any of the managers have broken any rules, but MPs condemned the way the NHS handled the redundancies.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee said: ‘It also looks as if the NHS has misled both the National Audit Office and the taxpayer to the tune of over one million pounds. It is not acceptable.’

And finally, a bit of light relief, unless you are short of stature. Researchers from the University of Oxford appear to have proof that short man syndrome exists.

The study used virtual reality technology to reduce the height of volunteers travelling on a computer-simulated Tube train by 25cm, and apparently the experience of being shorter increased reports of ‘negative feelings, such as being incompetent, dislikeable or inferior’. Daily Digest gets that most days on his commute into work, but that has nothing to do with his height.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Just Your Average Joe

    The rise in elderly patients being admitted to hospital is multi-factorial with a lot of the cause due to social change.

    You can have an unwell elderly person stay at home if there were a loving family there to look after them, provide basic support and care, allowing them to recover.

    The breakdown in extended families, and the move towards children/families living far from their elderly relatives means more and more elderly are abandoned to live alone, especially once their partners pass on. They can't provide or influence care when they live miles away, and they are working full time.

    The huge reduction in social care provision, and warden supported accommodation due to funding cuts, and the same austerity reasons preventing moves to supported care home places again leaves vulnerable elderly patients unable to cope at home alone with minor/moderate illness, which could be treated at home in a supported environment.

    I have objections to the constant references to the ‘disastrous 2004 GP contract’, which is usually a thinly veiled attempt to blame GPs for the problem - as we are to blame for all the ills of the NHS and society according to the DOH - Daily Mail hotline.

    The DOH pretty much imposed that contract, and I'm fairly sure the same cronies still hold their civil service jobs no matter which political party hold the whip.

    They opened the door to the privatisation, so successful takeovers from private providers stripped out more money for profit, at the expense of reduced provision, in cost cutting exercises, so there is very little OOH GP care overnight now.

    They are so stretched, they have little choice but to admit sick people, as they can't wait around for someone to drive 50 miles to help, and little immediate emergency care is available overnight.

    Finally the huge pressure on hospitals to make bed available, mean they are discharging people who are not fit for discharge, without adequate care, so they just bounce back to hospital, as the underlying issues at admission were never resolved.

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