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Labour: Social care cuts to blame for ambulance increase

Andy Burnham said that social care cuts are increasing the need for ambulance callouts. Credit: PA

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."

Over-90s needing ambulances 'up 81% since 2010'

New figures suggest an big increase in the number of elderly people needing ambulances. Credit: PA

The number of very elderly people needing to go to hospital by ambulance has risen 81% since 2009/10, according to new figures.

Analysis by Labour showed that 300,370 people over the age of 90 were taken to A&E by ambulance in the last year, a substantial rise on previous years. In 2009/10 the figure was 165,910.

The data comes from tables of ambulance activity in England published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

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'Worrying lack of awareness' of restraint procedures

George McNamara, head of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer's Society, said:

These findings point to a worrying lack of awareness and understanding of the use of DoLS.

It is unacceptable that the majority of care providers are not following correct procedure when using this measure.

Over half the applications were for someone with dementia and much more needs to be done across health and social care to ensure DoLS are better understood and implemented consistently, ensuring the best possible quality of care and support.

It is essential that the CQC continue to monitor its use to protect those most vulnerable in society.

Minister: Care home elderly 'deserve full protection'

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb pictured earlier this month in east London. Credit: PA

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: "People in hospitals and care homes deserve to be fully protected at all times, particularly when they need to be deprived of their liberty in their own best interests.

"This increase shows that more assessments are being carried out when they should be to safeguard people and protect their rights.

"Yet there is a long way to go before these provisions are fully used.

"The bottom line is that to deprive someone who lacks capacity of their liberty without a DoLS in place is unlawful and needs to be treated extremely seriously."

Dementia more than half of deprivation applications

Most applications and authorisations relate to older people with dementia living in care homes.

  • Dementia accounted for 53% of all applications in 2012/13, of which 59% were authorised.
  • The study said the number of applications has increased every year since the measures were introduced in 2009, though the rate of increase in 2012/13 was smaller than previous years.
  • There were 11,887 DoLS applications in 2012/13, a 4% increase on the 11,393 applications made in 2011/12.
  • The number of authorisations also increased, with 6,546 authorisations granted compared to 6,339 in 2011/12.

Read: Sharp rise in restraint used to deprive elders of freedom

Two-thirds of care homes and hospitals 'break the law'

The report said two-thirds of care homes and hospitals who make applications break the law by failing to notify the CQC of outcomes or applications.

The CQC said this contrasted sharply with people aged 18 to 65 for which the rate has increased much less over the period and fell slightly last year.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which apply in England and Wales, are intended to ensure that a care home or hospital only deprives someone of their liberty in a safe and correct way when they lack mental capacity.

They should only be applied when it is in the best interests of the person. Deprivation could include restraint, medication given against a patients will, staff having complete control over a patient's care or movements and staff making all decisions about a patient.

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Sharp rise in restraint used to deprive elders of freedom

The number of safeguarding applications which deprive old people of their freedom through the use of techniques such as restraint have seen a sharp rise.

There has been an increase in the use of restraint. Credit: Angelika Warmuth/DPA/Press Association Images

A report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found a "sharp increase" in the number of applications from organisations such as care homes to deprive people aged 75 and over of their liberty.

For those aged 75 to 84, there was an 81% jump in the number of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications made between 2009/10 and 2012/13, from 71.2 per 100,000 to 128.6.

Among those aged 85 and over, the figure jumped 69%, from 156.6 per 100,000 to 265.3.

Read: Sharp rise in restraint used to deprive elders of freedom

Government launches elderly malnourishment drive

The government has launched a project to tackle malnourishment among the elderly.

Government launches elderly malnourishment campaign
Government launches elderly malnourishment campaign Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

One million people over the age of 65 in England are prone to illness because they suffer from or are at risk of malnutrition, according to charity Age UK.

The project aims to increase diagnosis of the condition, and improve treatment, care and support for older people.

Lumely first to sign NHS 'Winter Friend' pledge

Actress Joanna Lumley was the first to pledge to help elderly friends and neighbours through the winter by signing up to an NHS scheme.

Joanna Lumley
Actress Joanna Lumley urged people to sign up to the winter pledge to care for the elderly. Credit: PA

Lumley said she was "proud" to become a "Winter Friend" and urged others to join the scheme.

She said: "A little help really does go a long way. You will also find, I'm sure, that giving a bit of your time in this way is hugely rewarding.

"Older people can be physically frail but they have a lifetime's wisdom and experience to share."

Former Olympic champion Sally Gunnell, actor Sir Tony Robinson and rapper Plan B are also backing the initiative, an NHS England spokesman said.

Read more: 31,000 excess winter deaths

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