Cuts in elderly care are hitting A&E, says regulator

Care Quality Commission says two-thirds of units in England are either inadequate or require improvement

NHS ambulances and A&E
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A&E services in England are struggling to respond as cuts in council care push more old and frail people into hospital, the regulator for health and social care services has warned.

Nearly two-thirds of accident and emergency units are either

inadequate or require improvement, says the Care Quality Commission. The problem is exacerbated by the growing numbers of elderly people left without the help they need for basic chores, it says, a situation that "creates problems in other parts of the health and care system, such as overstretched A&E departments".

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The regulator also questions whether the extra money the government says is being put into services is enough to help.

Rationing of care for the elderly has now reached a "tipping point", says David Behan, the commission's chief executive.

"After years of being told by the Tories the NHS is safe in its hands, the true desperate state of the service under their watch is today laid bare in a damning report," says the Daily Mirror, adding the health service may not be able to maintain high standards "while facing an onslaught of ideological Tory cuts".

The Daily Telegraph says there is something "wearily familiar" about the report's conclusion of a fundamental problem with the provision of services to care for the elderly. The paper calls for a concerted effort to integrate the NHS and the care sector and demands politicians "grasp the nettle" and explore other options for funding elderly care.

The problem, as The Times sees it, is that social care is typified by agency workers dashing from flat to flat, helping old people use the lavatory. It describes social care as "a confusing patchwork of nursing homes, residential placements and home care agencies" that has failed to capture the public imagination.

"The days of using social care cuts as a way to fund political boasts about NHS spending may be drawing to a close," concludes the paper.

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