The number of over-90s needing to go to hospital by ambulance has risen 81% since 2009/10, according to new data. Labour claims this is a result of cuts to social care funding. But ministers blamed flawed GP contracts brought in by Labour in 2004.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that too many elderly people were ending up in hospital because of the flawed GP contracts introduced by the Labour government.
Mr Hunt told the Daily Telegraph: “Labour’s disastrous 2004 GP contract left many vulnerable elderly patients without good out-of-hours care, so 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.”
He added that they allowed family doctors to abandon responsibility for out-of-hours care.
Age UK has said that some of those admitted to hospital is a consequence of "not getting good quality care at home".
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "It is important that older people receive the treatment and care they need and sometimes this means going to hospital.
"However we know that in some cases being admitted to hospital is the consequence of not getting good quality care at home."
Access to high quality social care is increasingly difficult as many vital services are withdrawn or reduced as a result of the current crisis in care.
"The core of the problem is that funding for social care has failed and is still failing to keep up with growing demand. Legislative reform is vital but pointless unless sufficient funding is in place."
Labour said the ambulance figures confirm that cuts to social care funding are driving up the need for hospital attention among the elderly.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said data in the House of Commons library shows that local authority spending on adult social care has been cut by £1.8bn since 2009/10.
He said: "These shocking figures expose the growing crisis in older people's care on David Cameron's watch.
"The Government's severe cuts to social care have left thousands of older people without the support they need - at risk of going into hospital and getting trapped there. It is one of the root causes of David Cameron's A&E crisis.
"It is appalling to think that every week there are thousands of frail and frightened people speeding through our towns and cities in the backs of ambulances to be left in a busy A&E."