‘The NHS long term plan must meet the needs of our ageing population’, says British Geriatrics Society’s President

Eileen Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society, is calling for the NHS long term plan to meet the needs our ageing population. Dr Burns is urging the Government to put older people at the centre of the forthcoming plans for the NHS so that all older people receive high quality, patient-centred care when and where they need it. Today, to support the changes required to make this happen, the Society has published its priorities for the plan.   

In 2018, seventy years after the founding of the NHS, the challenges of meeting the needs our ageing population require increased financial investment, reform across health and care services, a clear plan and strong, consistent commitment to delivering it.  

Reform of where, and how, patients are able to access care is key to achieving better health outcomes for older people, and vital to realising the benefits of financial investment. BGS is calling for the availability of care and treatment in community settings, closer to where people live. A financially sustainable approach to social care is also called for as it is critical to the success of any plans for the future of the NHS.  

BGS’s key priorities include:

  • Greater investment in joined-up services in community settings and increased involvement of mental health and social work staff in patient care 
  • Better integration of services with an emphasis on continuity and a move away from traditional divides between primary, intermediate and hospital care  
  • Better identification of frailty among older people and earlier treatment
  • Increased availability of rehabilitation and re-ablement services including timely access to occupational therapists, physiotherapists, district nurses and other allied health professionals  
  • Wider access to Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment  (CGA) and personal care plans 
  • A more flexible workforce strategy which includes employment contracts that allow for co-location and an increase in the number geriatricians and other specialists in older people’s healthcare
  • Supporting healthy ageing by enabling better identification of the health impacts of policy decisions across government
  • Success measures to be person-centred and to include the use of primary care, home care and quality of life, alongside those that cover hospitalisation

Dr Eileen Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society, commented:

“An NHS that better meets the health and care needs of our ageing population will not only benefit older people but society as whole. In order to improve health outcomes for older people we need to ensure they are able to access expert treatment when and where they need it, and we are calling for this to be taken into account at every stage of the planning process.”