Number of elderly people in hospital surges
The number of elderly people being treated in hospital has risen by two thirds in a decade raising fears that cuts in social care will add to pressure on the NHS.
NHS data has revealed that the over 60s had the most hospital stays of any age group in 2009/10, more than three times as many stays than among the under 14s. There was a 66 per cent rise in the number of hospital stays for over 75s in ten years to reach 3,837,990 and the number of stays for those aged 60 to 74 also rose by almost half.
The findings reveal how people are now living longer but also how much pressure the elderly population put on health services.
The health budget has been protected from cuts by the government but still has to find £20bn worth of savings over the next four years to cope with rising demand for services, an ageing population and increasing costs.
Medical advances and more sophisticated treatment such as the expansion of day case surgery has led to the average legnth of hospital stay dropping from almost eight days to under seven. The length of stay for the elderly has dropped from 15 days to 10 days during the last ten years, the data from the NHS Information Centre shows.
However it was warned that if elderly patients cannot be readily discharged out of hospital into suitable home care or residential care arrangements, then the NHS would struggle to cope as stays on wards would lengthen.
Earlier this week, Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service organisations, said that cuts to local authority funding would hit hospitals as there will be less community care for the elderly.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “Less support from council services will quickly lead to increased pressure on emergency services and hospitals. “Hospital beds will be blocked for those who badly need care because the support services the elderly require after discharge will not be available.”
The reasons for hospital admissions reflect the increasing age of patients with problems such as arthritis, joint problems and back pain rising faster than any other diagnoses. There were 1.1m admissions for these reasons last year, a rise of 82 per cent in ten years.
Jo Webber, director for social care at the Confederation, said it was vital that proper care packages were put in place for elderly patients so they could remain well and independent in their own homes for as long as possible. She said: “Already this is becoming a challenge for the NHS.”
Other data from the NHS Information Centre revealed that admissions due to assaults have increased by almost a quarter in the last decade to reach 42,380 last year. However there was a small drop between 2008/9 and 2009/10.
Admissions to hospitals in England for obesity have increased almost ten fold from 1,000 in 1999/2000 to just under 11,000 last year and the number of people admitted due to alcohol rose by half in ten years to reach almost 70,000.
Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, said: “This report gives an insight into the changing demands placed on England’s hospitals, which are getting busier every year. “It is clear that the effects of England’s ageing population are being felt in secondary care – with a greater number of older people passing through NHS hospital doors each year and the average age of a patient also increasing. “The figures also show that while more and more older people are being admitted to hospital, the average time they spend as an inpatient is falling.”
A Department for Health spokesman said: “These figures relate to last year. Since then, the Coalition Government ensured social care was not sidelined in the spending review by allocating an additional £2 billion by 2014/15. This will help to meet the needs of an ageing population and protect access to vital care and support to protect the most vulnerable in society.
“This includes funding for reablement, which has shown dramatic benefits in helping people to regain their independence after a crisis and cutting emergency readmission to hospital. A better integrated health and social care system in the community is crucial to our ambition of improving the nation’s health”.
Data from the Office of National Statistics earlier this week showed that death rates have fallen to record lows, largely due to improvements in care for heart disease and heart attacks.
New figures released by the Department of Health also show that life expectancy is increasing and deaths among those aged under 75 from cancer and heart disease are falling.
Baby boys born between 2007 and 2009 are expected to reach the age of 78, a rise of almost three years in the last ten years. Baby girls should exceed 82-years of age which is two years longer than the life expectancy of those born between 1998 and 2000. Life expectancy in England has continued to increase for both males and females, reaching 78.0 and 82.1 years respectively in 2007-09.
Deaths from cancer among men aged under 75s have dropped by 17 per cent in ten years and by 14 per cent for women. Heart disease and stroke death rates for the under 75s also dropped substantially, by 42 per cent for men and by 44 per cent for women.
How pushy parents DO improve British schools: Commitment by families ‘drives up standards’
It will surely be a green light for pushy mothers and fathers everywhere. Forceful parenting really does help children – and even their schools – to do better, according to research published today. Their efforts towards boosting their children’s educational achievement is highly significant, the study suggests.
In fact, researchers found it is even more important than the amount of work put in by the pupil – or their teachers. This is believed to be because parents’ conscientiousness rubs off on everyone around them, driving up standards across the board.
The study from Leicester University and Leeds University Business School suggests head teachers should deter pushy parents at their peril.
Researchers examined data from the National Child Development Study, which follows 17,000 people born in March 1958 throughout their lives. They focused on about 10,000 children aged 16 – from both state and private schools – who were asked questions about their effort in lessons, such as whether they thought school was a ‘waste of time’.
Their parents had been asked about their interest in education, for example whether they read to their child, knew about their progress and attended meetings with teachers. Teachers were also asked about their perceptions of this level of parental interest.
Researchers compared the findings to the exam results of these youngsters at age 16 and 18 and discovered that parents who showed even a small interest in their child’s education improved the probability of the average child getting four GCEs (now GCSEs).
Pushy parents were four times more likely than the school and six times more likely than the child to be able to instigate these improvements.
Professor Gianni De Fraja, head of economics at Leicester University, said: ‘If parents exert more effort, then the child also exerts more effort by working harder. ‘Separately and independently of this, the school results improve. What we found surprising is that the parent’s effort matters more than the school effort or the child’s effort.’
Children’s propensity to try hard at school was not influenced by their social background. However the socio-economic background of parents not only affected their child’s educational attainment – it also affected the school’s effort. Teachers were more likely to be more conscientious in response to middle-class parents than less advantaged ones.
Professor De Fraja said: ‘Why schools work harder where parents are from a more privileged background we do not know. ‘It might be because middle-class parents are more vocal in demanding that the school works hard.’
Last month, research claimed that private schools are being turned into ‘exam factories’ amid pressure from pushy parents to achieve results. The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents 250 leading independent schools, found that teachers are being put under ‘considerable pressure’ by families to deliver top grades.
Now the British government is trying to get its hands on the internet
With the best of motives of course
Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP, will today call for an investigation into the collection of personal data by Google during its Street View mapping service. The MP will also call for an internet bill of rights to protect the privacy of web users.
He will tell the House of Commons that a legal framework is necessary to “protect ordinary people” from having private information collected by commercial companies.
Mr Halfon requested the parliamentary debate following Google’s confession in May this year that it had collected “fragmentary” data belonging to UK citizens while compiling information to use on its Street View application. This data included passwords, email addresses and Wi-Fi addresses.
Google has since apologised for collecting the data, claiming it did so unintentionally.
But Mr Halfon will say: “Google’s invasion of privacy is not a few isolated mistakes. It is starting to look like a pattern.” The MP is expected to criticise the internet search engine for impinging on people’s civil liberties saying: “Either our home is our castle, or it is not.”
He will warn against the use of private information “on an industrial scale for commercial purposes” and MPs will be told: “There is a real risk that we are sleepwalking into a privatised surveillance society.”
Mr Halfon will claim that the UK’s response to the infringement of the general public’s privacy has been inadequate when compared with other countries.
In Greece and the Czech Republic Google Street View has been banned while the Candian privacy commissioner gave the company an official reprimand.
He will conclude: “When it comes to internet companies, the question of civil liberties is much murkier and less defined. That is why we need a robust commission of inquiry – with teeth – into the role of the internet and its relationship to individual liberty.”
Google has insisted that the collection of the data was an accident caused when code left in a production system kept the content being broadcast over the Wi-Fi networks as the Google Street View car drove past.
A spokesman said: “‘As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted networks. As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all WiFi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the UK authorities. We want to delete the data as soon as possible and will continue to work with the authorities to determine the best way forward, as well as to answer their further questions and concerns.
“Over the past several months we have been working to strengthen our internal privacy and security practices, as well as talking to external regulators globally about possible improvements to our policies. We are making three types of changes: more people, including a new post of Director of Privacy, more training, and better procedures and compliance. For example, in terms of compliance every engineering project leader will be required to maintain a privacy design document for each initiative they are working on. This document will record how user data is handled and will be reviewed regularly by managers, as well as by an independent internal audit team.”
Google has admitted to accidentally intercepting data in 30 different countries and deleted information collected in Austria, Denmark and Ireland in June. In July the UK Information Commissioner concluded there is no evidence of any “individual detriment”.
In August this year police raided Google’s South Korea headquarters, seizing computers and questioning company officials, following concern over alleged privacy violations.