Commenting on the Secretary of State’s speech, Will we rise to the challenge of an ageing society?, Dr Linda Patterson, clinical vice president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said:
Delivering high-quality care to an ageing population is one of the biggest challenges the NHS faces. The RCP’s 2012 report, Hospitals on the edge?, found that that the NHS continues to treat older patients as a surprise, at best, or unwelcome at worst. Too often, the system makes it difficult for doctors and other health professionals to deliver the best quality care.
Jeremy Hunt is right to identify pressure on A&E departments as ‘the biggest operational challenge facing the NHS right now.’ Pressures are often worst out of hours, where hospitals treat patients who could have been cared for in the community. Currently, out-of-hours care does not meet the needs of patients. This has to change.
The RCP established the ground breaking Future Hospital Commission to consider how to improve medical inpatient services. This will report in September. We welcome the government’s reviews of out-of-hours and urgent care and will be contributing to this work.