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12-09-2012 | General practice | Article

Intermediate care for elderly ‘falling short’


British Geriatrics Society

medwireNews: The provision of intermediate care - community-based services, particularly for the elderly and frail - in the UK is failing to meet demand, show the results of the first national audit of the service.

The report of the audit, published yesterday by the NHS Benchmarking Network, estimates that current national capacity is around half that needed to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and post-discharge care for older people.

Dr Duncan Forsyth of the British Geriatrics Society, which was involved in the audit, said in a press release: "We are concerned that there is a substantial shortfall in the provision of community-based services."

The voluntary audit of 62 commissioning organisations and 112 providers showed that the average number of bed- and home-based admissions was 984 per 100,000 weighted population; a figure the report says is unlikely to be relieving the burden of acute and emergency admissions to secondary care.

The report also shows that patients who remained in intermediate care for longer than the 6-week maximum advocated by the Department of Health represented a substantial proportion of bed days. The 4% of patients receiving care for more than 90 days accounted for 9% of bed-based days and 21% of home-based days. The report states that stay duration could therefore be a significant source of efficiency savings.

The report also highlights that step down services may be being prioritised due to pressures to move patients out of hospital. "The fact that intermediate care is heavily dominated by step down services has implications for our ability to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions. We need to get the balance right in order to ensure that older people are treated in the right place and retain their independence for as long as possible," said Forsyth.

medwireNews is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Kirsty Oswald