This is my first column as President of the British Geriatrics Society, so I want to start by saying how honoured and thrilled I am to take on the office.
I start in the role, conscious of the great work done by previous presidents (most recently, of course, the indefatigable David Oliver) and with an awareness of the size of the shoes I have to fill! I promise that I’ll learn from my predecessors and take forward the work of the Society to the absolute best of my ability. David, as those who know him would expect, has not retired to a spot of gardening or relaxation at home, he’s now clinical Vice president at the Royal College of Physicians of London. Whilst his role there is clearly multi-specialty, we rely on him to continue keeping our interests close to his heart! David’s enormous knowledge of those in the Health and Social care policy world was of great benefit to the Society, and we trust that he will continue to be a valued resource.
I am especially honoured to be only the second woman president of our Society. Although most (if not all) of our members know that the founder of our Society was a woman (Marjory Warren), she was never president. The great Marion Hildick-Smith was my female predecessor, who I recall as president when I was a research registrar.
The issue of the crisis in social care funding remains the most pressing one for all of us, as the number of people delayed in hospital grows. As an organisation we continue to use every opportunity to press government to review their current stance. As the Nuffield Trust, the King’s Fund, CQC, the National Audit office and everyone who has looked at the problem agree, the current situation is untenable.
Age UK publish a review of trends and changes in demography and health and social care issues which demonstrates a 25 per cent reduction in government spending on social care over the last five years, in real funding terms. This is without considering the impact of the growing older population. Little wonder then, that our patients remain the victims of underfunding.
It’s great to hear of members raising the awareness of the risks to older people from hospitalisation and trying to mitigate these by keeping people moving in hospital to avoid the impact of deconditioning. Some are fortunate to work in services benefiting from volunteers who help at mealtimes to mitigate poor nutrition and to keep people occupied. The core problem is clear, and our Policy and Communications staff will continue to try to get the message across.
President of the BGS