Elderly care is ‘biggest challenge’
Some 80% of beds occupied by just 20% of the population
SOME 80 per cent of beds at Leicester’s hospitals were occupied by just 20 per cent of the local population last winter.
The cohort, admitted between December 2017 and March 2018, were all over 70 and the majority were frail or multi-morbid – patients with more than one chronic condition – or both.
The situation is the biggest challenge facing the health service according to Mark Wightman, strategic director at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust (UHL).
He says the statistics mean that the NHS has been a victim of its own success and needs a “complete culture change” to deal with the demand.
Mr Wightman said: “One of the things that the NHS can be most proud of in its 70 years is that we have added to every man and woman’s life expectancy, that’s a phenomenal success story.
“Now our biggest challenge is that we’ve added those extra years and they are not always healthy years.”
Speaking to Leicester City Council’s health scrutiny committee meeting, Mr Wightman outlined how the trust plans to adapt in order to deal with demand.
He said: “The change needs to happen right the way through the health service, even back to how we train doctors.
“In these situations we need to learn to treat people rather than cure them.
“We need to look at what people’s base level was when they were admitted and get them back to that level rather than try and cure them completely – doctors want to cure people, that’s how they are trained so it will require a complete culture change.”
According to a UHL report, when health bosses looked at data it suggested that pressures across the system were not caused by the number of patients accessing services but by the type of patients needing support.
Mr Wightman said: “What some- times happens is that one of these patients will be ambulanced in to A&E, they might have three or four conditions like diabetes, COPD, kidney failure, and we then start testing them for those conditions. That’s nonsensical.
“Instead, we need to get to a point where we’re highlighting the conditions at the front door.
“Most of the time people come in with a cold or flu or because they’ve fallen, things not related to their condition or conditions, but then we proceed to try and cure them of everything.
“If we have a care plan then we can get people back to how they were when they came in rather than keep them in for long unnecessary stays.”
Councillor Virginia Cleaver supported the change.
She said: “Helping people to want to carry on living is what we should be doing.
“It’s a fact of life that we haven’t got an answer for all of these conditions. This is what we are able to do to give people their quality of life.”
FRAIL: Eighty per cent of beds at the city’s hospitals were occupied by 20 per cent of the local population last winter, and the patients were all over 70