An Alzheimer’s Society investigation has discovered tens of thousands of people with dementia each year are being admitted to A&E because inadequate social care is leaving them unprotected from falls and infections.
The investigation, which involved FOI requests to NHS Trusts in England and a survey of frontline paramedics, revealed a sharp rise in emergency admissions over the last five years – up 70 per cent since 2012, with more than 50,000 avoidable emergency admissions of over-65s with dementia in the last year alone.
Factors such as the ageing population and better data recording in hospitals have contributed to the rise – but over a similar time period there has been a 40 per cent cut to council budgets responsible for social care funding, says Alzheimer’s Society. There has also been a steady drop in the number of people accessing support, despite more people living with dementia.
The charity has released the report ‘Dementia – the true cost: Fixing the care crisis’, ahead of Dementia Action Week next week, as front line staff quantify the scale of avoidable admissions. Three quarters (75%) of paramedics surveyed said the problem is more common: Half said they faced this every week, and one in five (21%) every day.
Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes warned: “Successive governments have shirked the issue of our threadbare social care system. Starved of the care they need, people with dementia end up in A&E as a last resort, disrupting their home life and forcing them to struggle in crowded hospital wards. It shouldn’t and needn’t be like this.”
Alzheimer’s Society calculations estimate that last year avoidable admissions are estimated to have cost the NHS between £300-400 million.
Dementia Action Week takes place 21-27 May.