News | Published January 23 2020

Tenth of dementia patients spend over a month in hospital after admission

According to a new report from The Alzheimer’s Society, one in ten dementia patients spend over a month in hospital after being admitted.

Analysing emergency admissions in the six years to 2017-2019, The Alzheimer’s Society found that 379,000 patients had been admitted to hospital, an increase of 100,000 since 2012-2013.

These figures may in fact be higher, as dementia is not always recorded on hospital systems. Of these admissions, around 40,000 spent longer than 28 days in hospital.

The chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, Jeremy Hughes, said patients were falling through the cracks “of our broken social care system.”

Explaining why dementia patients stay in hospital for so long, Hughes stated: “People with dementia are all too often being dumped in hospital and left there. Many are only admitted because there’s no social care support to keep them safe at home.

“They are commonly spending more than twice as long in hospital as needed, confused and scared.”

In response to this report, ministers said they were “determined” to find solutions. Key to this, ministers said, would be reforming the social care system to ensure that dementia patients can be transferred from hospital to a more suitable environment.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We know that hospital visits can be distressing for people with dementia which is why there should be high-quality care in the community.”

Calls to reform the social care system have been growing for some time, especially given the repeated delays to the government’s promised social care green paper.

The social care paper was first announced by the Conservative government in the March 2017 Budget and was subsequently reaffirmed as a manifesto commitment during the 2017 general election campaign.

Since that time, however, the publication of the green paper has been delayed several times. Originally due to be published in “summer 2017”, this was changed by the Conservative government to “the end of the year [2017]” following the general election.

In November 2017, the government offered a revised publication date of 25 July 2018 and when this deadline was passed, the date changed to “before the end of the year [2018]”.

In January 2019, the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced his intention to publish the paper “before April.”

During the December election campaign, Boris Johnson claimed to have a “clear plan” which would “give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.” In January, however, he backtracked on this pledge, saying that the government would be “bringing forward a proposal” later in 2020. 

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
January 23 2020

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